May 26, 2014

Russian film a hit at Cannes: Leviathan


Leviathan (Левиафан, 2014), the work of Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival on 23rd May 2014. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section, winning the Best Scenario Award. Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin also won the award for Best Screenplay.

Set on a peninsula by the Barents Sea, Leviathan tells the story of a man who struggles against a corrupt mayor who wants his piece of land. The screenplay is a modern reworking of the Book of Job. The film’s producer Alexander Rodnyanskyhas said:
"It deals with some of the most important social issues of contemporary Russia while never becoming an artist's sermon or a public statement, it is a story of love and tragedy experienced by ordinary people".

Though it has become a favourite at Cannes, it has generated some tension from Russian Cultural Minister Andrei Medinsky whose department partly financed the film. Many of the mayor's scenes are filmed with a wall photograph of President Vladimir Putin looking down over his shoulder, implying that the Russian leader endorses the style of government the mayor represents.

Another controversy has been the level of profanity in the film. This is due to the introduction of a new law which reduces frequency of swearing in films. However, as this film had been made prior to the new law the filmmakers are under no obligation to reedit.

Film critic Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian wrote: "Andrei Zvyagintsev's latest [film] is…a mix of Hobbes, Chekhov and the Bible, and full of extraordinary images and magnificent symmetry."

Leviathan will be distributed by Curzon Cinemas in the United Kingdom and by Palace Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand.




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