Award-winning Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, best known for his 2011 film Elena has been nominated for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, breaking the long absence of filmmakers from Russia in the festival’s main competition. Zvyagintsev’s film Leviathan (2014), one of 17 selected this year, will run against productions by heavyweight directors such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, David Cronenberg and Jean-Luc Godard.
The film is based on the Old Testament tale of Leviathan, the mythological sea monster killed by God and fed to the Hebrews in the wilderness. Melding together a biblical story with themes concerning social issues in contemporary Russia, the director told Variety: “It is a story of love and tragedy experienced by ordinary people and both stories are universal and will be appreciated by people around the world.”
Zvyagintsev’s debut film, The Return, made a name for itself on the film festival circuit, was awarded Venice’s Golden Lion in 2003. His second film, The Banishment, competed in the main competition at Cannes, with Elena, his third film, receiving the Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section of the festival in 2011.
Sergei Loznitsa’s Maidan, a documentary about the Ukraine, will also have a special screening. The documentary filmmaker has twice been nominated for an award at Cannes. His film My Joy competed in the main competition in 2010 while In the Fog was shortlisted for a Palme d’Or in 2012.