Germany, Ukraine, UK, Russia


Natasha runs the canteen at a secret 1950s Soviet research institute. This is the beating heart of the DAU universe, everyone drops in here: the institute’s employees, scientists and visiting foreign guests. Natasha’s world is a small one, split between the demands of the canteen during the day and alcohol-fuelled nights with her younger colleague Olga, during which the two confide their hopes of romance and for a different future. At a party one evening Natasha becomes close to visiting French scientist Luc Bigé and the two sleep together. The following day her life takes a dramatic turn when she is summoned to an interrogation by the KGB’s General Vladimir Azhippo who questions the nature of her relationship with the foreign guest.

Director's Biography

Ilya Khrzhanovskiy was born in Moscow in 1975. He studied at the Bonn Academy of Fine Art and graduated from the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1998. In 2005, his debut feature film 4 earned him multiple awards including a Golden Cactus and Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. It was screened in more than 50 international film festivals and distributed in the UK, Italy, Netherlands, USA, Scandinavia and South Asia. DAU is Khrzhanovskiy’s second production and has been in the making since 2006. It is a multi-disciplinary project at the intersection of cinema, art, and anthropology. In the process of filming, over 700 hours of material were captured. Jekaterina Oertel was born in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) in 1966, before moving to the GDR in 1970. In 1987 she graduated from the Moscow Film and Theatre School. The same year, Oertel began her career as a make-up artist, working as an assistant at the Defa-Studio in the GDR. From 1990, Oertel headed up Make-up and Hair departments on more than 50 national and international film and television productions. She has worked with directors such as Tom Tykwer, Bille August, Matthias Glasner, and Roland Emmerich. In 2013, she received an Emmy nomination for her work on the TV series THE BORGIAS. Jekaterina Oertel has been working on DAU since 2008. During filming, she was the Head of Make-up and Hair Design, pivoting to an editing and co-direction role during the post-production. She has co-directed seven films and two series from the DAU universe. Since 2015, Oertel has led the development and artistic direction at the DAU SFX workshop, creating life-size silicone figures of all the DAU participants.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel

Written by: Jekaterina Oertel, Ilya Khrzhanovskiy

Produced by: Sergey Adoniev, Susanne Marian, Philippe Bober

Cinematography: Jürgen Jürges

Production Design: Denis Shibanov

Make-Up & Hair: Jekaterina Oertel

Casting: Inna Schorr, Asya Smekalova

Cast: Natasha Berezhnaya (Natasha), Olga Shkabarnya (Olga)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2020
  • Feature Film Selection 2020