Andrey Smirnov (I) - News Poster


Alexander Sokurov Leads Creative Lab in St. Petersburg

London — C.L.A.S.S., a creative lab led by one of Russia’s leading film directors, Alexander Sokurov (“Russian Ark”), has launched at the inaugural St. Petersburg Intl. Media Forum, organized by Roskino.

Ninety works have been shortlisted from 500 short films submitted to the lab’s selection board by young filmmakers from 48 cities in five countries. The authors of the projects received training at C.L.A.S.S., which took place at the Repino Village in St. Petersburg, before a six-strong jury of industry professionals decided nominees for awards in the categories of Grand Prix, director and script.

Sokurov said: “The thing is that today in Russia thousands of young people make so-called ‘films of their own,’ which are films about things that truly affect them, that make them reflect, that make them passionate. This type of cinema is virtually unknown to wide audiences since it exists
See full article at Variety - Film News »

This week's new films

Skyfall (12A)

(Sam Mendes, 2012, UK/Us) Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, 143 mins

It starts with a bang, but ends with a poignant whimper. This is supposedly a smarter Bond, you see, giving you first-class action and breathtaking imagery, but also a Freudian look into the secret agent's psyche. A pity, then, that the plot is utter nonsense. Bardem's Joker-ish baddie isn't interested in world domination; he has a personal score to settle, and an unfeasibly cunning plan…

Elena (12A)

(Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2011, Rus) Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov. 109 mins

The Return director finds form with a penetrating look at class resentment in money-obsessed modern Russia, perfect conditions for a noir-ish drama. Markina is magnificent as a hard-up divorcee, who does what she has to when her wealthy partner begins to ail.

Room 237 (15)

(Rodney Ascher, 2012, Us) 102 mins

This investigation into the myriad interpretations of Kubrick's The Shining goes far deeper than anyone needed,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Elena – review

Awkward families threaten a recovering patient's marriage in a subtle Russian marvel

If Claude Chabrol had made a film that looked like a Russian parable of human vanity, it might look like this gripping and disturbing film from Andrey Zvyagintsev. (I found myself thinking of both Merci Pour Le Chocolat and old Count Bezukhov's will in War And Peace.) Elena is only the third feature-length film from this 48-year-old director, after The Return (2003) and The Banishment (2007); it is in many ways his most intimate, and the film with the most contemporary and realist character.

Nadezhda Markina plays Elena, a middle-aged former nurse from a poor background who appears to have struck it very lucky. A wealthy patient, Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) married her and now she lives with him in his luxury apartment with nothing to do but tend conscientiously to her husband. He is ageing, but their love life is still vigorous,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Film Review: 'Elena'

  • CineVue
★★★★☆ Director Andrei Zvyagintsev broke onto the scene with his remarkably assured 2003 debut The Return, a visually alluring and emotionally engrossing story of two young boys who embark on a road trip with their long lost father. His third feature, Elena (2011), also deals with fraught domestic relationships and is a welcome confirmation that this promising Russian director is worthy of his early praise. Elena (Nadezhda Markina) and Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) are an elderly married couple who come from very different backgrounds; Vladimir is a wealthy but emotionally numb man, whilst Elena comes from a modest upbringing and believes strongly in the importance of family.

Read more »
See full article at CineVue »

Elena Movie Review

Elena Movie Review
Title: Elena Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev Starring: Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov and Aleksey Rozin Building tension is an art form in itself. Hitchcock knew that, and apparently so does Andrei Zvyagintsev. It is also quite apparent that he is a student of Hitchcock with his newest slow-burner, Elena; which is a follow-up from the The Return, another film with the same moral ambiguity. Elena would be classified as a modern film noir, if we’re looking to categorize cinema. Even the opening shot carries some unnervingly ominous symbolism, with a raven landing on an empty, autumnal tree branch and cawing loudly, making the only noise that can be heard. We gaze through [ Read More ]
See full article at ShockYa »

Interview: 'Elena' Director Andrei Zvyagintsev Talks Changed Ending, Favorite Filmmakers

Cinephiles, unite! The name Andrei Zvyagintsev is relatively unknown on these shores, as his remarkable debut "The Return" quietly came and went (though it is now on Netflix Instant -- Go!) and his tremendous sophomore effort "The Banishment" never saw a proper release in the West. That's all about to change with "Elena," his third and most refined piece of work, which not only saw a premiere at Cannes Film Festival but also left with the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. Zvyagintsev's aesthetic might make him seem like Andrei Tarkovsky II, but his voice is still his own, eschewing his mentor's liberal use of magic for more grounded, realistic stories.

Set in contemporary Russia, the film follows the titular character (Nadezhda Markina) as she cares for her wealthy second husband Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) in a gigantic penthouse apartment, in a high-class area of the country. By contrast, Elena's jobless
See full article at The Playlist »

Elena | Review

A Touch of Class: Zvyagintsev’s latest slow burn reaches a masterful boil.

Over the past decade, one of the most celebrated new filmmakers to come out of Russia is Andrei Zvyagintsev, with his highly celebrated 2003 debut The Return, and the equally acclaimed 2007 film The Banishment. A filmmaker with a knack for teasing tense thrills out of seemingly banal human relationships, he returns with his best work yet, Elena. A class clash potboiler, it’s a simple but deliciously hypnotic narrative about wealth and the queer way it tends to push people out of their comfort zones.

We’re introduced to Elena (Nadezhda Markina), wife and caretaker to Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov), a couple in their mid-sixties comfortably living in an expensive apartment in Moscow. Through their interactions, we learn that they each have children from a different marriage and that Elena used to be Vladimir’s nurse and, thus,
See full article at »

Trailer & Poster For Cannes Winner ‘Elena,’ From ‘The Return’ Director Andrei Zvyagintsev

  • The Film Stage
One of the best directorial debuts of the last decade was Andrei Zvyagintsev‘s The Return. The small story following two brothers packed a punch thanks to the director’s perfect pacing and unsettling style. His latest film, Elena, picked up the special jury prize at Cannes this past May and now a new trailer has arrived. The story isn’t grabbing me as much as his past films, but as with most foreign dramas of this ilk, the slow-burn appeal is hard to pack into a minute-and-half piece. Check it out below, along with a new poster thanks to In Contention, for the film starring Yelena Lyadova, Nadezhda Markina, Aleksey Rozin and Andrey Smirnov.


Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late
See full article at The Film Stage »

Sundance 2012 announces Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, and more

  • IFC
Sundance 2012 announces Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, and more
Following up their initial competition announcement the folks at the Sundance Film Festival have released the names of thirty additional 2012 selections, in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next, and New Frontiers sections.

Although these sections tend to focus more on young and up-and-coming filmmakers (particularly the Next sidebar, which was created just a few years ago with that specific mandate), you might find a few names you recognize in the full list of invited films below. Next is where you'll find the new film from "Great World of Sound" director Craig Zobel; it's called "Compliance" and it's described as the (based-on-a-)true story of what happens "when a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee." Lynn Shelton, director of "Humpday," will premiere "Your Sister's Sister" starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and "Humpday"s Mark Duplass. Duplass also wrote his wife Katie Aselton
See full article at IFC »

Sundance Announces 2012 Spotlight Lineup

Sundance continues to announce their lineups for each program and now we have the list of movies featured in the Spotlight section – the non-competition section where the festival screens some of their favourite films from other fests. Here is the lineup for 2012.

Corpo Celeste / Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After moving back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister, 13-year-old Marta struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church. Cast: Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli, Renato Carpentiere.

Declaration Of War / Belgium (Director: Valérie Donzelli, Screenwriters: Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli) — A young couple embark upon a painful, enlightening journey when they discover that their newborn child is very ill. Cast: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix. North American Premiere.

Elena / Russia (Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev, Screenwriter: Oleg Negin) — A meditative, modern-noir tale about an older woman,
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Sundance 2012 Out of Competition Films Announced

Sundance 2012 Out of Competition Films Announced
Yesterday the Sundance Film Festival announced the core lineup of films [1] that will be spotlit in the Competition slates at the 2012 festival. Now we've got a lineup of films that will play out of competition in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next <=> and New Frontier schedules. There are a few films in here with which you might be nominally familiar, like The Raid, Grabbers and Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, not to mention Andrea Arnold's new version of Wuthering Heights. But many are new announcements. While the competition lineups are always a good place to look for some of the films that will be the most talked-about in the year following each Sundance fest, these schedules are where some of the more unique and provocative films live. There are still some big premieres to be announced next week, but if I was making a big Sundance wishlist,
See full article at Slash Film »

Horror Related Offerings at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Institute has been rolling out the names of the films that will be screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, which takes place January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah; and while the horror offerings are a bit on the scant side so far, a few definitely sound like projects to keep an eye on. Read on for the details.

A couple of the below titles may not be pure horror, but based on their descriptions we thought them worthy of inclusion on our list. As more details are provided, we may or may not provide any kind of follow-up info based on how genre-worthy they turn out to be.

Park City At Midnight - From horror flicks to comedies to works that defy any genre, these unruly films will keep you edge-seated and wide awake. Each is a world premiere.

Black Rock / U.
See full article at Dread Central »

2012 Sundance Film Festival Announces Midnight, Next, New Frontier Films

2012 Sundance Film Festival Announces Midnight, Next, New Frontier Films
Getty Images The marquee of the Egyptian Theater announces the Sundance Film Festival

Yesterday, the Sundance Institute announced its in-competition narrative and documentary films for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Today, they announced their out-of-competition film in the Spotlight, Midnight, Next and New Frontier sections. The full list is below:


Regardless of where these films have played throughout the world, the Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love.

Corpo Celeste / Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

Sundance Announces Spotlight, Midnight, Next, New Frontier Lineups

  • MUBI
Following yesterday's announcement of the titles lined up for the four programs of the Competition, the Sundance Film Festival has unveiled the lineups of its out-of-competition sections: Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next <=> and New Frontier. This time, I'm going to go ahead and copy-n-paste the release nearly in full because, well, these are, potentially at least, the more interesting batches.

We'll cut in just as Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, is saying, “In many ways, the extremes of the Festival’s program are most readily apparent in our out-of-competition sections, which showcase the wildest comedies, the most terrifying horror films and uncompromised visions from singular voices springing up from around the country and the world. We hope audiences experiment with their film selections to an equal degree as these filmmakers have experimented with their storytelling.”


Regardless of where these films have played throughout the world,
See full article at MUBI »

Monsieur Lazhar, Wuthering Heights and Your Sister's Sister: Tons of Tiff Items Moving to Sundance's Spotlight Program

It'll be a Tiff does Sundance this year in the Spotlight Program as the majority of the films programmed in the section (which staffers state, "regardless of where these films have played throughout the world, the Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love") are films that moved from Cannes to Tiff en route to Sundance or had their world premieres at Tiff and are moving into Park City. Among the highlights we have have several Foreign Oscar submissions in Declaration Of War (France), Monsieur Lazhar (Canada) and Where Do We Go Now? (Lebanon), we have heavyweight audience favorites from Tiff in Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister and Gareth Evans' The Raid and Andrea Arnold will have her U.S premiere for Wuthering Heights in Park City. Among the "must see" titles in the batch of nine is Andrei Zvyagintsev's Elena - (see pic above
See full article at »

Sundance Film Festival 2012 Announces Spotlight, Midnight, Next and New Frontier Titles

  • The Film Stage
Following yesterday’s announcement of competition titles, Sundance Film Festival 2012 have announced the line-up for a few more sections today. In their Spotlight section we have a few of my favorite Tiff titles, including Wuthering Heights (pictured above), Your Sister’s Sister, as well as audience-winners The Raid and Where Do We Go Now? We also get the insane-looking Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie in the midnight section. Check out the list below.

Park City, Ut — Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival out-of-competition sections Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Next <=> and New Frontier. The Festival takes place from January 19 through 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The complete list of films is available at

Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, said, “In many ways, the extremes of the
See full article at The Film Stage »

2012 Sundance Spotlight, Midnight, Next & New Frontier Titles Announced

2012 Sundance Spotlight, Midnight, Next & New Frontier Titles Announced
Today the out-of-competition films were announced for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

The complete list of titles are below. See the films in competition here.

Some of the highlights here include the U.S. premiere of Lynn Shelton‘s Your Sister’s Sister, which received a lot of buzz at Toronto; Katie Aselton‘s thriller Black Rock starring Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth; found footage horror V/H/S directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and Radio Silence; and Craig Zobel‘s follow-up to The Great World of Sound, Compliance and Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (no further description needed).

Films in the Premieres sections will be announced Dec. 5. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 19-29.


Corpo Celeste / Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After moving back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister, 13-year-old Marta struggles to find her place,
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

Tiff 2011: ‘Elena’ – a bold but risky undertaking


Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev

2011, Russia, 109 minutes

The opening shot of Elena is so atypical, director Andrey Zvyagintsev jokes, that some audiences think the film has run into technical issues and begin looking to the projectionist fix the problem. There aren’t any. The scene—which is three minutes of gentle wind, branches, birds, and sunrise outside an apartment window—establishes the glacial pace and committed realism of the film. This is the sort of thing that precludes broad appeal, but it also makes the film special for audiences looking for something bold.

Elena is an exercise in hyperrealism. The reason the pace is glacial (forgive me, but ‘glacial’ is the only synonym for ‘slow’ that will do, in part because of the severity of the word but also because the film does not plod, dawdle, or move leisurely; Elena’s slowness is at once deliberate and economical) is because
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Wrapping Cannes 2011. Un Certain Regard

High time to round up the films at this year's Cannes Film Festival that never saw entries of their own and send them on their way. Today: Un Certain Regard.

"Bakur Bakuradze's The Hunter seems like a ficticious version of Raymond Depardon's Modern Life, a trilogy on farming that was screened in Cannes in 2008," finds Moritz Pfeifer, who also interviews the director for the East European Film Bulletin. "With no soundtrack, no professional actors, little dialogue and a minimalist plot, the film depicts the daily life of Ivan (Mikhail Barskovich) as he peacefully runs his pig farm in one of the less populous areas of northwestern Russia…. Clearly, Bakuradze wants to depict an alternative world, and the spirit of his film is more utopian than its hyper-realistic images suggest."

Grumbles the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt: "There is maybe 10 to 15 minutes of actual story located within this 124 minute slog,
See full article at MUBI »

Russian studio complex opens first stage

Russian studio complex opens first stage
Moscow -- Russian World Studios , controlled by the Sistema group, has opened the first stage of its new studio complex in St. Petersburg and announced plans for expansion abroad.

Sistema has invested $100 million in the studio complex so far, and the total cost of the project is estimated to be $250 million, Sistema Mass Media general director Andrei Smirnov told reporters Wednesday in Moscow, adding that the complex is expected to be completed within three years.

Industry insiders said that St. Petersburg has recently been seen as more attractive than Moscow as a Russian film production site.

The company plans expansion to the Baltic and Mediterranean states as well as to India and China, Smirnov said.

Rws has offices in London, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Los Angeles and operates as both a production company and studio service provider.

In addition to Rws, Sistema owns film company Thema Production, which has invested in several local and international films including Woody Allen's "Match Point" and Werner Herzog's "Rescue Dawn."
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

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