Russia’s most successful recording act ever, t.A.T.u., comprises two young Muscovites, Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova, who were selected at ages 15 and 14, respectively, after massive auditions in 1999 by a producer who thought he could become rich by creating and marketing a teen-girl duo. He was correct. The pair’s astounding success was fueled by award-winning dance-beat singles (the one best-known to English-speakers might be “All the Things She Said”) and CDs and videos that shocked the Russian public by showing Katina and Volkova kissing.
Now Mischa Barton, best-known from TV’s The O.C., will star in a film, Finding t.A.T.u, based on a novel authored by State Duma Deputy Alexei Mitrofanov of the Liberal Democratic Party, according to the Moscow Times. In the film, Barton “will play a Russian girl called Lana, from the provincial city of Yaroslavl, who befriends a lonely American girl living in Moscow, played by Danielle Panabaker. The two girls bond over their shared love” for the duo — then fall in love with each other.
Mitrofanov’s novel, t.A.T.u Come Back, published in 2006, was “written in the form of short text messages.” Producer Leonid Minkovski told the Moscow Times that, when he first heard about the book, “I got excited because I really like t.A.T.u.’s music.” Then he read it: “Minkovski was convinced. ‘I felt there was depth and a feeling of new Russia in this, so we decided to say yes.’ The film’s screenplay … has a different ending from his book, which includes the murder of one of the girls’ mothers, and also changes one of his Russian heroines into an American. The book aimed to show the lives of teenagers born at the end of or after the fall of the Soviet regime….
“The book’s plot hinges around t.A.T.u. because ‘all their songs are about freedom,’ Mitrofanov said. ‘People talk about t.A.T.u. being so depraved, but that is a form of natural self-defense from those who want everyone to toe the line.’”