Cold Snap (Part II): Russian Film after Leviathan

cNancy Condee is Professor of Slavic and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  She also directs Pitt’s Global Studies Center, one of seven US federally-funded resource centers.


This two-part essay takes Cannes—then Kinotavr and the Moscow IFF—as a triangular framework for a discussion of Russian cinema today. With no illusions of being comprehensive, the essay provides context for roughly thirty-five current and upcoming Russian films, loosely clustered around four topics: four directors; three debuts; economic health; and dominant industry trends. Part I can be found here. 


PART II: Four Industry Trends

Background. One of the enduring stress points in the Russian film industry is this: Russian film schools traditionally emphasize skills most easily suited in the early stages of a director’s career to auteur cinema rather than to a diverse range of genre films. Film-school students study with a carefully selected workshop (supervised by Vladimir Khotinenko or Aleksei Uchitel’, for example), where the mentor is known to have a distinct artistic style. It is not a matter of copying the master’s specific style; it is a programmatic matter of foregrounding “style” as such (as a principle of filmmaking). That mentor may teach critical skills relevant to blockbuster cinema, but the implicit structure is geared at the early stage towards the development of a unique cinematic signature, not (for example) a portfolio of Russia’s dominant cinematic genres, such as action, melodrama, thriller, and comedy.

An auteurist orientation, therefore, is neither good nor bad, but it is certainly mismatched to an industry—especially during periods of robust growth—in which so-called “spectators’ cinema” [zritel’skoe kino] is in higher demand by producers.[1] The non-correspondence between training and demand may be intensified by film festivals, which tend (for their own economic reasons) to be geared towards new names rather than advancing the project of large commercial returns in later distribution and exhibition. While Kinotavr—Russia’s most successful festival[2]—seeks a representative balance of arthouse and genre, the relation between the two remains more broadly a relation of perpetual disequilibrium. A look, therefore, at current genre trends in new releases can provide insights into the constantly shifting tension between the industry’s economic drive and the directors’ professional choices.


  1. Obey or Die. Industry roundtables, producers’ panel discussions, press conferences, promotional and press materials at Cannes Russian Pavilion and Film Market, Kinotavr, Moscow IFF, and elsewhere suggest that the Russian genres—in the loosest sense of the term—in greatest current demand include disaster films, space films, sports films, terrorist films, and (of course) war films. For economy’s sake, I would summarize their common logic as “obey or die.”


One need not engage in new cold-war politics to fathom their success. After all, US cinema has profited by frightening and disciplining its citizen-audiences since Edison Studio produced Searle Dawley’s 1910 Frankenstein, a year before the first Hollywood film.[3] The principle of exceptional compliance—obeying urgent orders, trusting the emergency crew, preserving the hierarchy, contingent risk-avoidance—organizes the plot in a manner as natural as it is transparent: what else would you do in outer space, in an Olympic match, in a terrorist attack, in an airline catastrophe, in an embassy kidnapping, in the final moments of an Olympic competition? Strategically immune to analysis, such films soothe the viewer with an appealing, unacknowledged trade: the frisson of disaster in exchange for a recommitment to consent. My interest here, therefore, is as much crudely taxonomic as it is ideological.

In these recent and upcoming Russian films, the injunction to consent is particularly compelling because—almost without exception—the plot is based on real events: the first 1965 spacewalk; a 1972 Soviet Olympics victory; a 1985 Soviet space emergency; a Soviet embassy kidnapping and icebreaker emergency the same year; a 2010 terrorist hijacking. Reassuringly, it often involves a historical triumph over the United States.[4]

The reader will draw his or her own conclusions about the implications for civil society, but two things are certain: now is a good historical moment for Russian directors to seek funding for such films; some of Russia’s best filmmakers have stepped forward to shoot them. I offer several brief examples of this perpetual state of exception.

Three recent or upcoming Russian films on terrorism are the focus of broad promotion. Artem Temnikov’s 2014 debut thriller No Comment [in Latin script, No comment] offers a cautionary tale about misguided young Westerner in search of meaning. Thomas, a restless young German is recruited to Chechnya; when he is forced to kill a Russian soldier, he realizes his mistake. The film’s Faustian subtext equates Islam with Thomas’s devil’s pact and includes a Chechen “Margarete” to underscore the literary analogue.[5] Actor Evgenii Mironov (now one of Temnikov’s producers) might be remembered as the lead in Muslim [Musul’manin], Vladimir Khotinenko’s 1995 drama in which a young Russian veteran returns as a converted Muslim, to the consternation of his family, neighbors, and the village inhabitants. Khotinenko’s film had aroused controversy at the time of its release; one cannot help but wonder whether Khotinenko’s plot of the peaceful Russian convert would be fundable today without some kind of strategic shift from the Russian peasant hero to the misguided Westerner, a strategic sign of the times.[6]


A second film concerned with global terrorism is Vasilii Serikov’s 2014 22 Minutes [22 minuty], based on the 5 March 2010 seizure by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden of the Russian tanker Moscow University.[7] Unlike Temnikov’s cautionary tale about a Westerner gone wrong, Serikov’s terror drama is an homage to the Russian Blue Berets, who liberated the tanker in a meticulously timed mission (hence, twenty-two minutes).



1 Serikov 22 minutes

Vasilii Serikov, dir. 22 Minutes (2014)


Though not yet released (and with no announced director), the most significant terrorist film in the upcoming two years is likely to be Beirut, currently in production with Art Pictures (Fedor Bondarchuk) with a release date of 2017. Filmed in Morocco, the historical circumstances concern the 30 September 1985 kidnappings of four Soviet diplomats.[8] The events are clearly redolent of today’s conflicts with Muslim fundamentalists near Tripoli.

As for sports films, Aleksei Andrianov’s 2015 The Fighter (sometimes in English The Warrior) [Voin] is the story of two brothers, both professional athletes in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The film casts Fedor Bondarchuk alongside sambo world champion Vitalii Minakov and world champion kickboxers Batu Hasikov and Vladimir Mineev. On an even grander scale, TriTe promises a Fall 2016 release of Russia’s most expensive Russian sports film, Road to the Top [Dvizhenie vverkh], directed by Anton Megerdichev. The plot centers on the USSR basketball team, coached in the 1972 Olympics finals by Vladimir Kondrashin, in triumphant competition over US rivals during a pivotal game that remains contested today.[9]

A third group of “obey-or-die” films concern Soviet space catastrophe. Iurii Bykov’s 2016 space drama First Time [Vremia pervykh], produced by Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Company and slated for release in fall 2016, concerns the first space walk on 18 March 1965, when the USSR triumphed over the US in the space race, seventy-seven days before US was scheduled for open space flight. Aleksei Leonov (Evgenii Mironov) and his partner Pavel Beliaev faced daunting challenges after the initial spacewalk, requiring their Voskhod-2 spacecraft to perform an emergency winter landing in the snowy taiga near Perm’. In a similar rescue vein, the 2017 space thriller Salute-7 [Saliut-7], produced by Sergei Sel’ianov’s CTB (for which the director has not yet been announced) focuses on ten days in 1985 during an open-space rescue operation by Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savin in an effort to repair a Soviet space station.[10] Both space films have been approved for funding by 7 April 2015 Cinema Fund competition for support.[11]


2 Leonov

Aleksei Leonov, first astronaut

to walk in open space (1965)×450/12547.jpg


To this group of space flight films, one might add the blockbuster that received the top funding score in the 2014 pitches to the Russian Cinema Fund.[12] Nikolai Lebedev’s air-disaster film Crew [Èkipazh], a $ 20 million effort already in production and scheduled for a Spring 2016 release, is a remake of Aleksandr Mitta’s 1979 film of the same title. Starring Danila Kozlovskii and produced by Nikita Mikhalkov’s TRITE Studio, Crew will be Russia’s second IMAX-3D release after Fedor Bondarchuk’s 2013 war film Stalingrad.[13]


3 Crew

On set: Nikolai Lebedev, dir. Crew (2016)

Finally, some indication of the current priority of such high-concept drama is the top-rated film in the Spring 2015 funding applications to the Cinema Fund. Produced by Igor’ Tolstunov (Profit) for a 2016 release, Nikolai Khomeriki’s Icebreaker [Ledokol] is based on the Spring 1985 incident in which the cargo ship Mikhail Somov became trapped in the Antarctic waters of the Amundsen Sea, until rescued by the icebreaker Vladivostok in July 1985.[14]


4 Icebreaker

Nikolai Khomeriki, dir. Icebreaker (2016)


Nikolai Khomeriki is an example of a strong drift in the auteurs’ profession today towards box-office, genre cinema. This drift could be traced in the work of directors as diverse as Vasilii Sigarev, Boris Khlebnikov, Aleksei Mizgirev, and Taisiia Igumentseva. In Sigarev’s case, his transition—from the painfully dark cinema of Wolfy [Volchok, 2009] and Living [Zhit’, 2012] to his comedic Land of Oz—entailed no compromise of artistic quality. A similar transition was less successful for Boris Khlebnikov—from the quirky 2009 Help Gone Mad [Sumashedshaia pomoshch’] to the more hapless 2012 Till Night Do Us Part [Poka noch’ ne razluchit]—or Taisiia Igumentseva—from the 2011 profane short Road to… to the banally comedic 2013 Bite the Dust [Otdat’ kontsy]).


  1. The Weathered Hand of Neo-liberalism. This tendency may not (yet) be elevated to the august stature of film genre. Nevertheless, a cluster of current and upcoming Russian films at the forefront of new domestic release statistics share a fascination with the post-2007 financial crises and their human consequences: the monetizing conversion of social value into legal tender; the global, national, and individual acceleration of risk; the volatility that results from financial deregulation and unrestrained speculation. Into this capricious category I put three examples. Egor Baranov’s 2014 erotic thriller Locust takes city-girl Lera and country-boy Artem from a resort fling to calculated high-stakes assassination initiative to achieve their ends. The “Locust Generation”—short on patience, long on global greed—is cast as a symptom of economic disparities and a determination to capitalize on them at any cost.


5 Sarancha

Egor Baranov, Locust (2014)

In a compatible vein, Roman Prygunov’s 2015 drama Dukhless 2, a sequel to his 2012 Dukhless, is the tale of a king of global finance who has a change of heart. Now Max Andreev starts a new life in a distant land, only to discover (under global capital) “you can’t outrun your past.” Bali provides the backdrop for this exploration of the long arm of high-finance speculation. Sarik Andreasyan’s 2015 fantastic action film Mafia is the story of a Russian television reality show in a futuristic Moscow setting. In this global environment of rampant monetization, the costs are high and the annihilation rate of carbon-based life forms even higher.


6 Dukhless


Roman Prygunov, dir. Dukhless 2 (2015)

Finally, Viktor Ginzburg’s fantasy Empire V [Ampir V], based on ViKtor Pelevin’s 2006 novel of the same title, is the story of Roma Shtorkin, a post-Soviet twenty-something who becomes affiliated with the Fifth Empire (a vampire corporation). The film, described by the director as a “mystical satire on the new world order, hyper-capitalism and the new Babylon,” enters production in fall 2015 and is slated for completion in 2017. Planned to be rich in special effects, the vampire love-story fantasy is shot primarily in Moscow and continues Ginzberg’s romance with neo-liberal gothic, evident in his previous 2011 sci-fi drama Generation P, based on Pelevin’s 1999 eponymous novel.

  1. Adaptations: Literature and nearby. Literary adaptation—either prose or “around literature”—has long been one of the most productive, low-risk choices in cinema. Some of the adaptations mentioned briefly below—three pre-Soviet, four Soviet—are riskier than others. Nevertheless, the adaptation provides a text often familiar to funders as well as to viewers from a range of ages, education levels, and economic backgrounds.[15]


Pavel Lungin’s contemporary rendition of Aleksandr Pushkin’s 1833 novella Queen of Spades [Pikovaia dama] is his 2016 psychological thriller Queen of Spades [Dama pik], starring Kseniia Rappoport and Ivan Iankovskii. With a script written by David Seidler (scriptwriter for Tom Hooper’s 2010 drama The King’s Speech), the film is produced by Fedor Bondarchuk’s Art Pictures with a $ 13 million budget. Currently in search of co-producers, the film’s future is reasonably certain, given Lungin’s record at Cannes 1990, where he was awarded Best Director for his 1990 comedy Taxi Blues [Taksi bliuz]; and was selected twice more (1992 and 2000) for the Main Competition.[16]

Another imperial classic, already in distribution, is Vera Glagoleva’s 2014 drama Two Women [Dve zhenshchiny] from Ivan Turgenev’s 1848-50 five-act play A Month in the Country [Mesiats v derevne]. The film preserves the atmosphere of Turgenev’s comedy of manners, even reviving one of the play’s several original titles: first called The Student, Turgenev’s play encountered moral problems with the censor; then revived as Two Women (a solution that also did not solve the problem), the play then took its most anodyne title (A Month in the Country) before its 1872 premiere.


7 Two Women

On set: Vera Glagoleva, dir. Two Women (2014)


At the margins of literature are three recent or upcoming films. Mikhail Ugarov’s 2014 drama Brothers Ch [Brat’ia Ch] is a portrait of the Chekhov family—Anton and his two brothers Nikolai and Aleksandr—with a script written by Ugarov’s partner Elena Gremina. The film has received little domestic attention; its official promotional materials cite Ugarov only as a playwright-prose writer who also has directed television, with no mention of Teatr.doc, New Drama, or the ongoing harassment Ugarov and Gremina have faced in recent years.

As for Soviet literary contexts, Stanislav Govorukhin’s 2015 drama End of a Great Era [Konets prekrasnoi epokhi] draws its title from essays by both Iosif Brodskii and Sergei Dovlatov, while its material relied on Dovlatov’s 1973-1980 collection of novellas The Compromise [Kompromiss], published in 1981. With strong resemblances to Dovlatov, Govorukhin’s semi-biographical hero, journalist Andrei Lentulov, is depicted at the moment in the mid-1960s when his outspoken prose has landed him in trouble, sending him on a well-advised trip out of Leningrad to Tallinn during the “great era” of the Thaw, a time of tremendous cultural creativity, as well as political setbacks, for the metropolitan intelligentsia.


8 Govorihkin

On set: Stanislav Govorukhin, dir. End of a Great Era (2015)


A different Dovlatov—and no less interesting, and still in preproduction—will surely be Aleksei German, Jr.’s 2016 biographical drama Dovlatov, which examines four days in 1971 when the Dovlatov—a journalist who has been failing to place his creative work in official journals—decides to change his life. Set five years later than Govorukhin’s film, German’s Dovlatov is an homage to a lost Leningrad era, for which the bohemian hangout, nicknamed “Café Saigon”—a run-down café on the corner of Nevskii and Vladimirskii Prospects—had been an informal meeting place for such underground figures (at various historical moments) as poets Iosif Brodskii and Evgenii Rein; musician-songwriters Boris Grebenshchikov and Viktor Tsoi; and artists Mikhail Shemiakin and Evgenii Mikhnov, as well as Dovlatov himself. Apart from the drama of Dovlatov’s own struggles, the film provides a cultural panorama from unofficial poetry readings to the struggles within Lenfil’m and the Bol’shoi Drama Theatre.[17]


9 Dovlatov

Sergei Dovlatov


With his Moscow IFF premiere in the Main Competition, Aleksandr Proshkin returns to Aleksandr Vampilov’s 1970 play Duck Hunting [Utinaia okhota], which has had an enormously successful afterlife, including Vitalii Mel’nikov’s 1979 television version, Vacation in September [Otpusk v sentriabre]. Its core plot concerns Viktor Zilov, who has lost any appreciation of life other than the solitary respite of duck hunting. As his blessings accumulate, he experiences them as burdens, except for the escape to nature, his only antidote to despair. In Aleksandr Proshkin’s updated 2016 drama Earthly Eden [Raiskie kushchi], the hero is now an IT specialist in a Russian holding company. The film, much of it shot in Kaluga with the wide-angle lens of the industry’s top cameraman, Shandor Berkeshi, is a promising contribution to the Vampilov thread in Russian culture. 

On a very different Soviet note (and not yet fully funded) is Angelina Nikonova, together with her steady co-author Olga Dykhovichnaya, has undertaken an adaptation of Vladimir Sorokin’s 1982-1984 “lesbian” novel Marina’s Thirtieth Love [Tridtsataia liubov’ Mariny], published only in 1995. Set in Moscow in 1983, Nikonova’s adaptation, entitled The Thirtieth Love [Tridtsataia liubov’], follows Sorokin’s story of a thirty-year-old woman who, after twenty-nine female lovers, is told in a dream that her thirtieth lover—a man—would be transformative. After making love with a factory Party Committee secretary, she finds the prediction comes true: her identity shifts from political disaffection to socialist-realist clichés to a delirious transcription from the official Soviet television broadcast Time [Vremia].[18]


10 Sorokin

Vladimir Sorokin’s novel, Marina’s Thirtieth Love

(1982-84; pub. 1995)

This account by no means exhausts the 2015-2017 adaptations released or in production.[19] Their sustained dominance on the industry landscape suggests that this trend is safe common ground for producers and directors alike.



  1. The Pageantry that is Russia. Three films, newly released or in postproduction, uphold Russia’s most cherished traditions, its deep regard for Orthodox heritage and secular pageantry. Screened out of competition at Moscow IFF 2015, Vladimir Khotinenko’s 2015 historical drama Heirs [Nasledniki] is motivated by the recent 700th anniversary of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (1314/1319-1392), Russia’s monastic reformer and most revered spiritual leader, whose life was first written by his pupil Epiphanius the Wise (?-1420).[20] The film, however, is framed quite differently: as a modern-day television talk show, in which a slice of Russian society—a historian, a politician, a patriot, a pop singer, and children’s psychologist, and a monk—discuss the spiritual figure and his relevance to their lives. The film, which includes a spoof of what some critics take to be Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinskii, stages the relevance (or irrelevance) of the Abbott in the context of modern Russia.


11 Heirs

Vladimir Khotinenko, dir. Heirs (2015)

Two other works taking on the grand period drama choose ballet as the prime environment of Russia’s imperial legacy. Aleksei Uchitel’’s 2016 bio-pic Mathilde [Matil’da] tells the story of Mathilda-Marie Kschessinskaia (1872-1971), mistress of Nikolai II and prima ballerina assoluta of the Imperial Ballet. This visual extravaganza includes (we are told) “over 7000 original period costumes and costume pieces,” “17 tons of fabric,” and 2000 participants in the Khodynka episode,as well as resplendent footage of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres, the Catherine Palace, the Dormition Cathedral and the larger Kremlin territory. Scripted by Aleksandr Terekhov[21] and with musical direction by Valery Gergiev, the film provides a strong cast, including Danila Kozlovskii and Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė. Scheduled for completion by late 2016, Uchitel’’s work is likely to boost the image of a jewel-box Russia for tourist visits over the next several years.


12 Matihilde

On set: Aleksei Uchitel’, dir. Mathilde (2016)

Another period extravaganza is Valerii Todorovskii’s 2016 ballet drama Bolshoi, with an estimated $ 11 million budget. While Uchitel’’s film is a bio-pic, Todorvksii’s is the fictional story of Iuliia, a girl who leaves her mining town to join the capital’s ballet troupe. For Todorovskii, the cost and logistics of shooting in the Bolshoi Theatre were solved by the construction of a facsimile Bolshoi for the shooting period. A greater challenge (for both Todorovskii and Uchitel’) had been to find ballerinas who could act. Todorovskii’s film promises music by Petr Tchaikovsky (and even more lavish costumes) for a satiating slice of elite Russian culture.



Only the lazy man—as the Russian expression goes—would fail to criticize the system that produces contemporary Russian cinema. Nevertheless, thanks to efforts by key figures in the film industry, its educational system, its competitions for funding, its festival system, and its strategies of distribution are acquiring greater coherence, if not transparency, consistency, or (necessarily) merit. In the past five years, it is possible to claim a vast improvement over the days when the word “filmmaking” was a derogatory euphemism for honest money laundering.



To undertake an account of any national cinema industry is, after all, to invite a cascade of examples that have been overlooked; much has been overlooked here. Its most fragile arena is the equilibrium between commercial and arthouse cinemas. Whether the current equilibrium is an interim stage that gradually moves to the sidelines such talented directors as Andrei Zviagintsev and Vasilii Sigarev, as well as Aleksei Fedorchenko and Sergei Loznitsa, is too early to tell. Zviagintsev’s award at Cannes and nomination at the 2015 Academy Awards are evidence that successful Russian cinema can risk straying far from blockbuster formulas. Moreover, through all the current challenges and turbulence, the film coming out of Russia today retains its historic prominence in large-scale, ambitious auteur film. In this context, the original question “bad geopolitics or bad cinema?” has less rhetorical power to force a choice—as “obvious” as it is misguided—upon the thoughtful spectator.

[1] This stress point is not new, but for an interesting current discussion of its contemporary implications, see comments by Dmitrii Kupovykh (producer and director of Free Cinema School) and Filipp Abriutin (Co-Chair of the Youth Center of the Filmmakers’ Union) in the stenographic report of the 18 April 2015 House of Cinema roundtable entitled Integration of Young Filmmakers into the Cinema Industry, published in SK-Novosti 5 (331), 15 May 2015: 8.

[2] One measure of Kinotavr’s success is the number of its premiered films that are picked up for distribution. A measure for the region, Kinotavr sustains a distribution rate of 70-80%. Of the fourteen 2013-14 films, chosen from eighty-one submissions to premiere at Kinotavr 2014, for example, ten moved on to commercial release (71%), according to Alexander Rodnyansky (Kinotavr Final Briefing, 14 June 2015); thanks to Vladimir Padunov for this information.

[3] Though still the subject of debate, current archival evidence suggests that the first film shot in Hollywood was D. W. Griffith’s 1910 melodrama In Old California, four years before the other contender for the “first Hollywood” title, Cecil B. DeMille’s 1914 Western The Squaw Man.

[4] US film colleagues would make the argument better than I, but analogous Hollywood examples of “obey or die” films might include Brad Peyton’s 2015 catastrophe thriller San Andreas (Warner Brothers); Kathryn Bigelow’s 2012 action thriller Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures) on the search for Osama bin Laden; Clint Eastwood’s 2000 astronaut action drama Space Cowboys (Warner Brothers) on the 1958 space race; Ron Howard’s 1995 space disaster film Apollo 13 (Universal Pictures), on the failed April 1970 lunar landing.

[5] The original title of No Comment had been Doctor Faust’s Great-Grandson [Pravnuk Doktora Fausta].

[6] While I would not argue there is a direct connection, I do not believe radical conversion to be a trivial concern: the radicalization and subsequent military death (14 December 2014) of Russian cinema and television actor Vadim Dorofeev while fighting on the side of ISIS in Syria is one example of such a loss within the cinema community. See Joanna Parasczcuk, “’Young, Talented’ Russian Actor Reportedly Dies Fighting for IS,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 26 January 2015, online at

[7] “Somali pirates hijack Russian China-bound oil tanker,” BBC News (5 May 2010), online at

[8] Ihsan A. Hajazi, “4 Russian Men Taken Hostage in West Beirut,” The New York Times 1 October 1985, online at

[9] Neil Amdur, “The Three Seconds That Never Seem to Run Out,” The New York Times (28 July 2012), online at

[10] See Nickolai [sic] Belakovski, “The little-known Soviet mission to rescue a dead space station,” ars technica (16 September 2014), online at

[11] First Time was ranked seventeenth of twenty-three funded films; Salute-7 was ranked tenth.

[12] Crew competed against thirty-one submitted projects from nine “majors” (leading film studios) in the 2014 Cinema Fund pitchings.

[13] Lebedev’s success record has included the 2013 sports drama Legend # 17 [Legenda No. 17], one of Russia’s top box-office films of recent years.

[14] Sean Williams, “Soviet icebreaker attempts dramatic Antarctic rescue mission,” Christian Science Monitor 23 July 1985, online at

[15] Most literary classics are less likely to encounter institutional objections—including in the current conditions of strategically de-centralized censorship, such as vetting by the Russian Military-Historical Society (in Russian, RVIO)—that would threaten the Ministry of Culture’s issuance of the required distribution certificate [prokatnoe udostoverenie].

[16] His 1992 drama Luna Park and his 2000 comedy The Wedding [Svad’ba]) both competed at Cannes in those respective years. Lungin’s current project was ranked twenty-fourth of twenty-seven Russian films produced by non-major studios recently vetted for potential funding by the Cinema Fund’s Board of Trustees.

[17] A Russian-Polish co-production, the film is produced by same team (Andrei Savel’ev and Artem Vasil’ev) as had earlier worked on German’s 2015 science-fiction drama Under Electric Clouds [Pod èlektricheskimi oblakami].

[18] Vitaly Chernetsky (Mapping Postcommunist Cultures 148-49) has commented that Sorokin’s signature transgressive moment works here in reverse, from deviance to conformity. Nikonova’s film, produced by Julia Mishkinene (Vita Aktiva) is in the early stages, starring Dykhovichnaya, who had played lead roles in their two previous films, the 2011 melodrama Twilight Portrait [Portret v sumerkakh] and the 2013 comedic drama Welcome Home [Velkam khom].

[19] Other adaptations include Èlla Arkhangel’skaia’s 2015 the small-budget family thriller Cage [Kletka], based on Fedor Dostoevskii’s 1876 short story “A Gentle Creature” [“Krotkaia”]. Iurii Arabov contributes the screenplay to this updated version of the story, which takes place simultaneously in the present and in Dostoevskii’s moment of writing. Among other works related to Soviet literature, Ivan Bolotnikov’s 2016 biopic Kharms, on the life of writer Daniil Kharms (1905-1942), is currently in preproduction, produced by Andrei Sigle. An adaptation of a later Soviet literary work is Viktor Dement’s 2015 debut drama The Find [Nakodka], based on Vladimir Tendriakov’s 1965 eponymous novella about Fishing Control inspector Trofim Rusanov, who works in a remote region of the taiga. Dement’s film premiered domestically at Kinotavr in June 2015.

[20] Responsible for the founding of more than forty monasteries (many of them in remote areas), most notably the monastery now known as the Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra (at modern-day Sergiev Posad), as well as the Andronikov monastery, where the medieval icon-painter Andrei Rublev worked and was buried, St. Sergius was affectionately known as the Abbott of Russia.

[21] Terekhov is a major Russian writer who was awarded the Russian 2012 National Bestseller award for his novel Germans [Nemtsy]. His translated work includes the 1995 novel The Rat-Killer [Krysoboi] (English, 2009), his 2001 Army Stories [Memuary srochnoi sluzhby] (English, 2007) and his 2009 The Stone Bridge [Kamennyi most] (English, 2014).