Growing Pains

By Ellen Rodnianski | Drama
A 15-years-old who is 9 months pregnant tries to navigate her difficult situation.

Zhenya is a 15-year-old girl. She's also nine months pregnant. When her school is about to be inspected by the city, Zhenya is essentially kicked out by school leadership, who fear her pregnancy will tarnish their reputation.

Left to her own devices, she turns to family and friends, but she faces increasing amounts of rejection from her community, making her angrier than ever. No one is there for her as she wanders her city, and even her baby's father, Boris, is kept from her, thanks to his overprotective mother. But just when Zhenya seems the most alone, she finds an island of understanding and kindness, though whether or not it's sustainable is another question entirely.

Written by Tanya Leonova and directed with great humor and tenderness by Ellen Rodnianski, this short drama tracks the search for love and understanding from a young woman essentially abandoned by her community. Zhenya is, on the surface, like many other teenagers. She's smart, sarcastic, full of emotion and hormones. But she's also hugely pregnant, and she sparks negative reactions around her.

Of course, this makes Zhenya is even more sarcastic and spiky in demeanor, and the excellent character-centered writing offers keen observations of the negative cycle she finds herself in. Zhenya's search for connection and empathy at this most challenging point in her life drives the shape of the narrative, and her journey -- captured with a beautifully muted and dynamic visual naturalism -- offers a panorama of the relationships that form her life. Her family judges her; her friends are sweet but their ability to relate to her is limited. Zhenya realizes that she is increasingly alone emotionally.

Actor Polina Doroshkevich offers a multidimensional portrayal of Zhenya, capturing a teen's innate boldness and rebelliousness as well as the vulnerable girl lashing out at the world around her. And as the narrative carefully builds up to Zhenya's confrontation with the father of her baby, the audience suspects that Zhenya will finally meet her breaking point with the boy who got her pregnant and then abandoned her.

But then "Growing Pains" does something much different than expected, revealing its full humanity with a rich, measured characterization of Boris, played by actor Artem Raguzin with great empathy. The story wends its way into a more radiant, tender direction, one that makes us care for them as characters. It also results in a surprising decision by both teenagers, who reveal more emotional depth and compassion than given credit for by the world around them. As the pair take off into the film's final cliffhanger, audiences can't help but root for them, despite the odds or obstacles stacked up against them.




You Might Also Like:

Iniquity

By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.

Pony

By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.

CODA

By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.