Russia's 'Leviathan' pleases Cannes, angers Russian minister

Fri May 23, 2014 11:06am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

CANNES France (Reuters) - The director of a Russian film about corruption that received favorable reviews in Cannes said on Friday Russia's culture minister disapproved of it but he hoped it would be seen there despite pending curbs on profanity in entertainment.

Director Andrei Zvyagintsev, whose film "Leviathan" is being shown in competition at the world's most prestigious film festival, said he had shown it to Culture Minister Andrei Medinsky, whose office partly financed the movie, before bringing it to the festival.

"He said the film was very talented but he didn't like it," Zvyagintsev said. "I can understand that stance. He has a lot of work, he is supposed to make the world better."

The film is a no-holds-barred look at how a corrupt local mayor (Roman Madyanov) crushes all who oppose him, seizing a piece of seafront property from handyman Kolia (Alexey Serebryakov) in a ruthless way that destroys the man and his family.

Many of the mayor's scenes are filmed with a wall photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin looking down over his shoulder, implying that the Russian leader endorses the style of government the mayor represents.

Reports circulated at Cannes that Medinsky was boycotting the film but there was no immediate response from his office or the festival press office.

A spokeswoman for the Culture Ministry in Moscow declined immediate comment, asking for a written request, but said all events Medinsky was planning to attend on Friday were on a schedule posted on the ministry website.

It did not include the premiere of “Leviathan” or a trip to Cannes, and indicated Medinsky would attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.   Continued...

(L-R) Cast members Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Elena Lyadova and director Andrey Zvyagintsev pose during a photocall for the film "Leviathan" (Leviafan) in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Yves Herman