Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan has been chosen by Russia’s Oscar selection committee to compete for the foreign-language Oscar this year, bringing to an end years of controversy in which government-backed patriotic cinema has been nominated over higher-acclaimed films.
The nomination of the Cannes-winning film, a gritty drama of corruption in contemporary Russia, was confirmed by director Pavel Chukhrai, a member of the committee.
The committee, chaired by Kremlin-favourite Nikita Mikhalkov, nominated a number of patriotic films for the prize in recent years, including Mikhalhov’s own film Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel in 2011, causing widespread controversy in the film community as it was nominated in place of Zvyagintsev’s previous film Elena, which had also proved successful internationally.
No Russian films nominated in recent years made it the shortlist, which goes forward to the final ceremony in February. Russia last won the foreign-language Oscar in 1994 for Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun.
Just last week, director Andrei Konchalovsky refused to have his film, The Postman’s White Nights, compete for the foreign-language Oscar, calling it “overvalued”, and a symbol of western cultural dominance in the film community.