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4 Oct, 2007 04:54

New flick by Golden Lion-winning Russian director hits the screen

One of Russia's most promising film makers, Andrey Zvyagintsev has premiered his latest family drama, 'The Banishment,' in Moscow.

Siberian-born director Andrey Zvyagintsev was a professional actor before he began making films.

His low-budget drama, 'The Return,' has picked up more than 40 international awards, including two Golden Lions at Venice in 2003 – for Best Film and Best Debut.

His second feature, 'The Banishment,' received the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Now, as one of Russia's most sophisticated film makers, he has finally presented his latest drama in Russia's capital.

Zvyagintsev waited 12 months for the Swedish-Norwegian actress Maria Bonnevie of the Stockholm Royal Theatre for his film.

Bonnevie had a year-long contract with a theatre, and shooting of the film had to be postponed.

Many Russian actresses auditioned for the role, but Zvyagintsev chose the one who had worked with the legendary Ingmar Bergman. 

Bonnevie played her part in Russian, and confessed it was one of the most complicated roles she ever had.

“I had to take a journey into my character's life in order to feel and understand her as a person. And I fell in love with her immediately. I'm happy I had a chance of knowing her so well” confessed Maria Bonnevie.

'The Banishment' is a psychological family drama with universal appeal. It's hard to guess who they are – Russian, French or British.

It's not clear where the Banishment takes place – East or West. 

Shooting took place in Northern France, Belgium, and Moldova, but Andrey Zvyagintsev made sure he removed all markers of culture, and indications of time and place, from the film.

In the plot, Alex, his wife Vera, and their two children, stay at an old house in the country.

Breathtaking scenery and sensual beauty create a universal world where a husband and wife fail to find a common language.

Love and tragedy go hand in hand, followed by jealousy and misunderstanding. Some confessions cost too much. 

“Cinema for me is a means of making breakthroughs, discoveries about myself and others. And that's what happened to me in 'The Banishment.'  I've discovered something about myself. Something not very pleasant… but still…” says Zvyagintsev.

“If the viewer leaves the cinema as a different person that's a good reward for me”  he adds.

Zvyagintsev's favourite actor, Konstantin Lavronenko who played in his drama, 'The Return,' was named Best Actor at Cannes this year and has achieved international stardom.

“I actually think of the word a ”star“ with a little irony, especially when referring to Russian actors. When we label somebody as a star, there's always a hint of irony” admits Konstantin Lavronenko.

'The Banishment' was one of the most highly awaited films at the 60th International Cannes Film Festival. And it is certainly going to be one of the most talked-about Russian films this year.