Nikita Mikhalkov waiting for a verdict
What does it mean to remain human? That’s the main question raised by a new drama by Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov, recently presented at the 64th Venice festival. It is the only Eastern European film featured in the official competition of
A remake of Sidney Lumet's 1957 feature “Twelve Angry Men”, Mikhalkov's film has little to do with the old classic except for that both films focus on a murder trial.
Mikhalkov says he used Lumet's “great movie” only as a pretext to speak about what's worrying him: indifference, prejudice, and anger.
An 18-year-old Chechen boy is charged with killing his step father, a Russian officer. Twelve jurors are locked in the gym of a Moscow school to decide his fate. The decision has to be unanimous but when somebody's life is at stake, there's always room for hesitation, and tensions escalate.
Part of Nikita Mikhalkov's film is set in Chechnya and features the horrors of war, bloodshed and grief seen through the eyes of a boy.
“He’s a person that nobody cares for. He’s a Chechen boy with no family. So, right off the bat, people stereotype: they think he’s a gangster, somebody not worth debating about – especially since the case is so obvious. He’s nobody to them – and that’s why what takes place behind the closed doors is so important,” explains Nikita Mikhalkov.
Being Chechen makes the boy neither guilty nor innocent. Twelve men of different nationalities, professions and backgrounds will have to prove they are not indifferent.
There are no cameo roles in the film – each man has a story to tell.
Mikhalkov says he also decided to play one of the jurors – in order to get under the skin of the film and communicate with the actors during the shooting.