Russian director and screenwriter Andrey Zvyagintsev, center, winner of the best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Leviathan, attends a press conference in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2014
Vittorio Zunino Celotto—Getty
By Elizabeth Barber
September 29, 2014

Russia is betting on an anti-Russia film to win big in Hollywood this winter.

The country has named Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film, Leviathan, as its submission to the Oscars, even after foreign reviewers described the film as skewering Russia’s corrupt politics, reports the TASS news agency.

“We took the decision after a majority vote. Leviathan is Russia’s pick for the Oscars,” Pavel Chukhrai, a film director on Russia’s Oscar nomination committee, told TASS.

Leviathan, which won best screenplay at Cannes, follows a Russian man as he duels with a corrupt (and pro-Putin) local mayor. The film has been widely reviewed as a grim, satirical take on Russian politics: in a review this spring, the New York Times called it “a scathing indictment of Russia under President Vladimir Putin.”

Zvyagintsev also told reporters at Cannes that Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky had seen the film but “didn’t like it” — though he did call it “talented,” according to the Times.

Zvyagintsev’s films have done well on the international awards circuit: his 2011 movie, Elena, nabbed top awards at Cannes, and his 2003 film, The Return, garnered the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, Agence France-Presse reports.

Leviathan is expected to open in Russia in November — but, AFP says, with its profanities cut.



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