Russia, Belgium, Germany, France


Zhenya and Boris are going through a vicious divorce marked by resentment, frustration and recriminations. Already embarking on new lives, each with a new partner, they are impatient to start again, to turn the page – even if it means threatening to abandon their 12-year-old son Alyosha. Until, after witnessing one of their fights, Alyosha disappears…

Director's Statement

Our narrative is rooted in a simple story of family conflict, which will be familiar to many. A husband and wife are going through a divorce – a trivial occurrence on the face of it. In a way, these are Scenes from a Marriage transplanted to a different era and acted out by different characters: urbanites devoid of any real self-awareness, doubt, or even consideration; an average middle-class couple today.

Sick of each other after many years of marriage, both intend to move on to a “new project”: to turn over a new leaf, begin a new chapter, remake themselves with new partners and fresh emotions that will help them to feel complete and full of promise. All that holds them back is their past experience. But surely, they can find a solution and dump the baggage that stands between them and their happiness? Their son, a stranger to both of them, becomes a ragdoll they lob vindictively at each other’s faces.

“I’ll change; I won’t repeat the same mistakes that brought me to disillusionment; I will begin anew.” These are the thoughts of people who blame others for their fiascos, like stage actors forced to work with colleagues who can’t handle their roles. They think that the best solution is to replace those around them. The truth doesn’t occur to them: they could change every other actor, and they’d still be left alone on stage, stuck in the quicksand of their play without a hope of getting out. You can’t rewrite the plot created for your old self. The new leaf of your new chapter will always be stained with the inkblots of past experience, and your new co-stars will only repeat the same old dialog you hate so much. The only thing that can be changed is you. And only then will everything around you glow anew, and even all those stale and tired co-stars will suddenly appear different.

This is one of the most obvious narrative directions of our film. The story’s deeper layers will touch upon other, no less important themes: our duties as parents; so-called “bad genes”, which psychologists appropriately describe as the script parents write for their children; the erosion of Christianity throughout the world; and the nature of our post-modern era, a post-industrial society littered with excessive information and comprised of individuals with very little interest in other people as anything other than a means to an end. These days, no one even bothers to hide it: it’s every man for himself. All those brave enough to recognize that loveless corner of their hearts, however small and insignificant, will find a painful reflection of themselves in our story.

Director's Biography

Born in Novosibirsk. In 1990, Zvyagintsev graduated from the acting program at the Russian University of Theater Arts (GITIS), under the tutelage of Evgeny Lazarev. He went on to take part in independent theater productions and had a few bit parts in TV shows and movies. In 2000, he made his debut as a director.
In 2003, Zvyagintsev shot his first feature film, The Return, which became the cinema sensation of the year. A debut not only for the director but for the majority of the crew as well, it was accepted for the main competition at the Venice Film Festival, and won the top prize, the Golden Lion. It also garnered the Award for Best Debut, with the commendation: “a sublime film about love, loss and coming of age.” His second film, The Banishment, was presented at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, where the lead, Konstantin Lavronenko, became the first Russian actor ever to receive the festival’s Award for Best Actor.
The international premiere of Zvyagintsev’s third film, Elena, took place in 2011 at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard competition program. His latest film Leviathan participated in the official competition of 67th Cannes film festival and won the award for the Best Screenplay. Leviathan also became the first Russian film since 1969 to win the Golden Globe award and was nominated for the Academy Award as the Best Foreign Film.


2011 ELENA

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Written by: Oleg Negin & Andrey Zvyagintsev

Produced by: Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov, Gleb Fetisov

Cinematography: Michail Krichman

Editing: Anna Maas

Production Design: Andrey Ponkratov

Costume Design: Anna Bartuli

Make-Up & Hair: Galina Ponomareva

Original Score: Evgueni & Sacha Galperine

Sound Design: Andrey Dergachev

Cast: Marianna Spivak (Zhenia), Alexey Rozin (Boris)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Cinematographer – Prix Carlo Di Palma 2017
  • European Composer 2017
  • European Director 2017
  • European Film 2017
  • European Screenwriter 2017
  • Feature Film Selection 2017