The top Russian movies of 2016 that are expected to perform well internationally and win some major awards run the gamut from historical drama through Asian-tinged fantasy to theatrical adaptation. Here’s a pick of five of the most eagerly-awaited pictures.
The love story of the famous ballet dancer Mathilde Kschessinska and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia has been begging to be adapted for the screen. It really had everything: ballet, court intrigues, the troubled times it was set in – in short, all the things you need to get international recognition, and – with some luck, even a Golden Globe or an Oscar – are there.
Well aware of this, director Alexei Uchitel treated the project very seriously. Even the film's cast gives away its international market ambitions: Nicholas II is portrayed by German actor Lars Eidinger and Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite, accompanied by Russian actors who have already achieved at least some degree of fame abroad, such as Grigory Dobrygin (who appeared in Western films A Most Wanted Man and Black Sea in 2014). Interestingly, the name of the actress portraying Mathilde Kschessinska has not yet been revealed.
Viy 2: A Journey to China
The original Viy, a very successful 2014 dark fantasy feature known internationally as Forbidden Empire, made headlines in Russia by the simple virtue of being released: The movie had originally been announced no fewer than seven years earlier.
Loosely based on the eponymous thriller by Nikolai Gogol, the film earned $30 million in Russia and attracted some attention from China – despite earning only $3 million there, it still appealed enough to Chinese producers that they decided to take part in making a sequel. Thus, the second part of the story, which is still in production, will be set in the Celestial Empire: A teaser of the film showcases Wuxia-style action scenes, dragons and other essential elements of an "Asian-flavored" flick.
This multimillion-dollar project by Alexander Rodnyansky, known for producing Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan, is directed by Alexei Mizgirev, who until now has made auteur films that have never earned over $20,000 at the box office. The Duelist stars Fanny Ardant, Vladimir Mashkov, Pierre Bourrel and Yury Kolokolnikov – and that's pretty much all that is reliably known about Russia's most secretive movie of 2016. The film is set in the 19th century and revolves around an individual who makes his living by standing in for other people in duels.
Read more >>>