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David Bezmozgis to direct film based on Natasha and Other Stories


(photo: David Leyes)

David Bezmozgis is set to direct a feature film adapted from the title story of his 2004 collection, Natasha and Other Stories (HarperCollins Canada). Production is scheduled to take place in Toronto this summer.

The Globe and Mail reported that a casting call was posted for the production Wednesday seeking Russian-speaking actors and noted that some scenes will contain sexuality and some nudity.

The stories in Natasha centre on the lives of the Bermans, a Jewish-Latvian immigrant family living in suburban North York. The title story charts 16-year-old Mark Berman’s introduction to love and sex by his 14-year-old cousin Natasha, a recent immigrant herself.

Bezmozgis’s stories have been called “plainly autobiographical“: young Mark attends the same school and lives at the same address that Latvian-born Bezmozgis did growing up, while Roman Berman, Mark’s father, struggles to establish a massage therapy business, just as Bezmozgis’s had.

In 2011, Bezmozgis published his first novel, The Free World (HarperCollins Canada), which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Trillium Prize. A University of Southern California film school graduate, Bezmozgis wrote and directed his first feature film, Victoria Day, in 2009. It was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay.