Private Project

I Am Not A Princess

"I Am Not A Princess" is a biographical documentary that explores the challenges of modern womanhood through the life of Irina Meyer, a Venture Capitalist, mother, and rebellious Russian-American who relentlessly works to create space for women in business.

  • Salvatore Assenza
  • Irina Meyer
  • Salvatore Assenza
  • Hannah Assenza
  • Bala Bailey
    Director of Photography
  • Dragomir Bajalica
  • Dado Dzihan
    Music Composer
  • Sergio Castro
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 26 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    280,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Russian Federation, United States
  • Language:
    English, Russian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Salvatore Assenza

Salvatore Assenza is a highly respected TV and Documentary Feature Director based in the UK. Salvatore began his career in film as a 3rd AD for an Italian police series before crossing over to the big screen. After collaborating on a UK film shot in Spain he relocated to London where he directed documentaries for major UK and US broadcasters like the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5, Discovery, and National Geographic. Sal brings an international approach to storytelling and loves to push boundaries.

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Director Statement

To make an engaging biographical film is no easy task- especially if the biography isn’t following some big-name A-lister. The worry is always, how do I engage the viewer to stick it through till the end? But, after spending only a week with Irina I was hooked. If I could replicate how I felt about her in the storytelling of the film then I would have instantly solved the issue.

Irina is a woman who- like many others- has had to fight for every single thing she has in life. Nothing was served to her on a silver platter. Her story is compelling to hear because it’s a story of ongoing struggles, love that was never unconditional, and fate that was rarely mostly harsh. And yet Irina has the power of a Siberian tiger and the kindness only mothers can give. We all know of similar stories, but to listen to the voice of someone who’s lived through physical abuse at the hands of those who should have loved her the most, the loss of the only family members who did give her affection, horrendous financial struggles, sexual abuse in the workplace, and still live life with the biggest smile and a drive to do good is something to be in awe of.

So, how do you tell a story of a person whose history and achievements are such that when you hear them for the first time, all you can think of is, this can’t be true- she’s making this all up and yet it all turns out to be complete reality which is corroborated by the many voices we hear in the film.

Because of Irina’s complex life story, I decided to film this documentary most honestly, breaking the 4th wall and including small sections of the filmmaking process to reiterate the honesty of her life- there’s no pretending with this woman. The storytelling is straight and simple so you can focus on what’s being said, without distractions and mind games.

The first impression as you watch is strong, powerful, almost overwhelming. Then, as you start to get to know her- slowly taking one layer off at a time- you’re left with the same person you first met, but somehow you don’t see her as this overpowering personality anymore, rather a gentle and kind soul.

As a Sicilian coming from a place where women’s voices are not always heard, throughout my life, I’ve tried to break this pattern and honor and respect women and their stories, and yet making this film made me realize how many biases I still have ingrained in me. If we’ve done our job well, then after watching this film, we hope some might go home and reflect on their biases and how they treat women in life in general and perhaps make some small
changes that will without a doubt benefit us all.

Salvatore Assenza