Great Expectations / Cinema / Uliana Zu Stavi, 28
She studied law in Russia, but has launched a career as a model and actress in Israel.
Paul is a hand puppet created by the animator and director Adam Bizanski. Over the past two years, Paul has appeared in a number of rock videos made by Bizanski; after garnering tens of thousands of views on YouTube he won the lead role in a short film named after him. The film was widely praised in the Israeli media and was screened at the Haifa International Film Festival and in the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
But Paul's melancholy image is not the only thing that has generated buzz - so has a supporting actress in the film, Uliana Zu Stavi. She plays Paul's ex-girlfriend, who returns in his dreams and torments his soul. It's Zu Stavi's debut as an actress, and a number of directors and casting directors are offering her new parts.
She was born in St. Petersburg, where she followed in her father's footsteps by studying law. She came to Israel six years ago to follow a boyfriend and immediately decided to stay.
"Everything here feels more natural and right," she says. "And anyway, I had no intention of being a lawyer." At the same, she never considered embarking on a career as a model or an actress.
"In Russia I never gave much thought to my exterior appearance. It was perceived as very average, something you could see on any street corner in Moscow or St. Petersburg," she says.
"But apparently in Israel beauty is different and special, and almost from the moment I arrived, people started to flatter me and recommend that I model. Even though I was a little old to start in that profession, I tried it two years ago and succeeded. Now I got this offer to act and it went well, too. I hope things continue like this."