January 17–30, 2019

From Russia with Love: The Cinema of Andrey Zvyagintsev

Andrey Zvyagintsev makes heavyweight political dramas that move smoothly, hit hard, and leave colourful bruises.”

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

Among this century’s most decorated and internationally admired auteurs, Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev (b. 1964) has staked out an impressive place for himself with a succession of formally rigorous, morally complex films that hold up a mirror to the stark, sometimes unsavoury realities of modern Russian society—much to the indignation of state officials and funding bodies.

Poised to be a serious actor—he attended the prestigious Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow after graduating from drama school in his native Siberia—Zvyagintsev discovered his vocation for directing when, during a bout of underemployment, he turned to helming episodes of Russian television. The Return (2003), his feature directorial debut, was an out-of-the-gate masterpiece, an enigmatic tale of father-son estrangement that won the coveted Golden Lion at Venice and garnered the 39-year-old filmmaker comparisons to Soviet cine-god Andrei Tarkovsky. (Hungarian metaphysician Béla Tarr is another oft-invoked figure of comparison.) Over his subsequent four features—The Banishment (2007), Elena (2011), Leviathan (2014), and Loveless (2017), each decorated with a major prize at Cannes—Zvyagintsev revealed himself to be a master allegorist and social critic, whose austere, meticulously crafted family dramas lay bare the political and ethical corruption taken root in his country. The authorities, once champions of his work, now cry foul at Zvyagintsev’s increasingly pointed, polemical films (“slanderous,” in their estimation), publicly disowning Leviathan and forcing Loveless, his latest, to be made outside the system. (Both features were, ironically, Russia’s official submissions to the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film competition—and both ultimately received Oscar nominations.)

A celebrated artist who traffics in the intimate and the ineffable, the political and the transcendental, Zvyagintsev is responsible for one of contemporary cinema’s most enviable and accomplished oeuvres. This complete retrospective includes all five of his feature-length works to date.

Few living filmmakers put as much care and intentionality into their storytelling craft as the emergent Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev.”

Eric Hynes, Film Comment

Andrey Zvyagintsev is not only a leading Russian filmmaker, but one of the most interesting directors at work today.”

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2019-Jan The Return Andrey Zvyagintsev 2003 Russia
2019-Jan Elena Andrey Zvyagintsev 2011 Russia
2019-Jan The Banishment Andrey Zvyagintsev 2007 Russia
2019-Jan Loveless Andrey Zvyagintsev 2017 Russia . . .
2019-Jan Leviathan Andrey Zvyagintsev 2014 Russia