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Dad's Sneakers


An immersive insight into the last hours of 13-year-old Sasha’s life in a boarding school for children deprived of parental care. He is one of the luckiest – an American family have finally agreed to adopt him. Today he will move to another country forever, but there’s something that doesn’t let him go.

A family. The land of dreams. All that is promised. Yet, Sasha experiences some setbacks. Perhaps his biological father might step up. He observes fellow boarding school boys enjoying a dip in a beautiful Ukrainian summer.

But dad’s gone. The boys bullied him. The summers might be warmer in certain parts of America.

The director Olha Zhurba has captured a poignant picture of what an immense threshold of patience and a true eagerness to forgive looks like. Here, the universal human need for somewhere to belong in (and to) is so immensely acute. Director of photography Volodymyr Usyk’s hand-held camera and intense close-ups confront the viewer with a kaleidoscopic spectre of Sasha’s emotions – playfulness, escalating to the point of profound sorrow.

Boy's masochistic hopefulness is fragmented between the past rejections and the cordial welcome awaiting him across the ocean. The cheerfulness of the “new mom”, the American, is sharply contrasted with the distant timidity of Sasha. The crown jewel of Dad’s Sneakers is Sasha’s repetitive recital of the rehearsed gratitude speech in English. The broken pieces within him keep breaking with every word pronounced.

Līga Požarska 

Director's filmography: First film


  • Director Olha Zhurba
  • Country Ukraine
  • Year 2021
  • Duration 19 min
  • Scottish Premiere


Bill Douglas Award 2: Flesh of My Flesh (N/C 15+)

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