From ‘Leviathan’ Director Another Damning Portrait of Russia

From left, director Andrey Zvyagintsev, actors Maryana Spikav and Alexei Rozin pose for photographers during the photo call for the film Loveless at the 70th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 18, 2017.
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After his Oscar-nominated film “Leviathan” was deemed “anti-Russian” by Russia’s Minister of Culture, director Andrey Zvyagintsev returned to the Cannes Film Festival with an equally bleak critique of Russian society.

Zvyagintsev was to premiere his fourth film, “Loveless,” on Thursday in Cannes, where “Leviathan” won best screenplay three years ago.

That film, which also won a Golden Globe, was made with Russian state funding and prompted Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, to refuse any further state financing for what he called Zvyagintsev’s mix of “hopelessness and existential meaninglessness.”

“Loveless” was instead made as an international co-production. The film is ostensibly about a bitterly divorcing couple (Mariana Spivak and Alexey Rozin), whose young son (Matvey Novikov) goes missing. But “Loveless” is also filled with state news reports and other sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant references that – as in “Leviathan” – suggest Russia’s politics has bankrupted its society.

“The Ministry of Culture went to great pains to emphasize how much they disliked ‘Leviathan’ and their desire to avoid the repetition of this kind of mistake in the future,” said producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

“After the uproar that ‘Leviathan’ caused in Russia, I made a conscious decision to do this without any state involvement. I decided we didn’t need to embarrass them again and to do the film on our own.”

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