“Dreams of Alice,” a supernatural teen drama centered on a girl haunted by strange dreams as she plots her escape from a mysterious Russian town, is among the standout projects chosen for the Berlinale Series Market Selects, a newly created label that highlights series with high commercial potential.
Created by Anastasiya Volkova, and directed by Andrey Dzhunkovskiy, the series is produced by Valeriy Fedorovich and Evgeniy Nikishov of 1-2-3 Production, the team behind the hit Netflix original series “To the Lake.” The show will air domestically on Russian broadcaster TV-3.
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“Dreams of Alice” follows a rebellious, small-town teen haunted by bloody premonitions whose everyday struggles prompt her to hatch an escape plan. But amid a series of strange supernatural occurrences in her gloomy provincial hometown, she begins to wonder if there’s no way out.
Series creator and writer Volkova described the show as a deeply personal project offering “a glimpse into my own past.”
“I lived in the North, where most of the time everything was covered in snow, cold and darkness, and where I was haunted by nightmares,” Volkova told Variety. “Like Alice, when I was growing up, I heard stories about how our land was once inhabited by witches who still live among us to this day. I knew the ladies and old women who were thought to be witches, and I even took part in certain rituals with them.”
The eight-episode series follows Alice as she tries to make sense of her mysterious nightmares and ward off the grim future that they portend. “Her strength lies in her refusal to give up regardless of the circumstances,” said Vorkova. “Alice is a teenager who goes against the whole town and will keep going, even when her life is in danger. She’ll show everyone that she doesn’t accept what the future has in store for her.”
In order to do that, added the writer, “she will first have to uncover her own mystical power and the secret surrounding her birth, learn to control worlds and discover her destiny.”
Central to the series’ mood is its evocative setting, in a remote northern town that almost seems pulled from a fairy tale. “We found a magnificent shooting location—the town of Kostomuksha, a Russian town partially built by the Finnish,” said Dzhunkovskiy, who directed and partnered with DoP Ilya Ovsenev on the Netflix original series “Better Than Us.”
“The architecture is very minimalistic and not typically Russian. We wanted a look and feel of a lost town. Something that feels a bit foreign and out of place for the Russian audience.”
Fedorovich and Nikishov, of 1-2-3 Production, said they were instantly pulled into the carefully crafted world of “Dreams.” “We’d worked with Andrey [Dzhunkovskiy] and Ilya [Ovsenev] before, on the drama series ‘Dolce Vita,’ which was a huge hit on Russian TV and a real buzz in social networks,” said Fedorovich. “When they brought us ‘Dreams of Alice,’ we jumped at the chance to collaborate with them again.”
Nikishov added that the series’ genre elements bolster its potential in the global market. “‘Dreams of Alice’ is a teenage drama with fantasy, sci-fi and crime elements—a genre that, unsurprisingly, is generating a lot of real hits at the moment,” he said. “It’s a sort of teenage fairy tale with a folklore feel, about a little town and two friends who dream of changing the world.”
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