Sergey Garmash dreamed to participate in any Nikita Mikhalkov's movie for a long time. He literally begged the director to give him a role in his movie. One morning Mikhalkov called him and asked "Do you go to church". Garmash said "Yes". Mikhalkov then asked "Do you pray a lot?". Garmash said "Yes". Mikhalkov then said "Your prayers have been heard! The script is on the way".
The movie has an epigraph ("Don't look here for the truth of everyday life, but try to feel the truth of being") and an epilogue ("The law comes before everything, but what's to be done if the mercy comes before the law?"). Both are quotations from one B. Tosia. Most probably, he (or she) never lived and is the fictional alter ego of Nikita Mikhalkov.
Yuriy Stoyanov's character (the guy "from" Harvard) shows the picture of his mom to the cemetery director. In fact it's Youri himself on the photo in female dress and make-up. Picture is taken from Reklamnaya pauza (2006) playing the character "Gorobov" which made him a star.
The surgeon defends the south by naming several great artists from there. "Shota Rustaveli" was a 12th Century Georgian poet. "Pirosmani" (the more common name of Niko Pirosmanashvili, 1862 - 1918) was a Georgian primitivist painter. "Sergei Paradjanov" (also spelled Sergei Parajanov) (1924 -1990) was an Armenian film director and artist. "Danelia" is Georgiy Daneliya is a Georgian film director, known for his "sad comedies".
The character played by 'Yuri Stoyanov' (childish TV-producer, owner of a private TV chain in consort with his mother) is a caricature of 'Dmitri Lesnevski', ex-owner of the independent chain Ren-TV and producer of acclaimed Russian movies The Return (2003) (The Return, 2003) and Izgnanie (2007). In 2003 "Vozvrashchenie" was awarded with the Golden Lion of the Venice Film Festival and nominated for Academy Award, therefore becoming the greatest international breakthrough of the Russian cinema since "Burnt by the Sun" by Mikhalkov.