Andreï Filipov was a prodigy – the celebrated conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, the greatest orchestra in Russia. Today, aged 50, he still works at the Bolshoi, but as a cleaner. During the communist era, he was fired at the height of his fame for refusing to get rid of all his Jewish players, – ‘Zionists and enemies of the People’ – including his best friend Sacha Grossman. Andreï sank into booze and depression. The Director of the Bolshoi, an old apparatchik, has been promising forever to return Andreï’s orchestra to him “soon”, but he’s mocking him, humiliating him sadistically. For him, Andreï’s a has-been, and he’s doing him a big favour by keeping him on as a cleaner. Then Andreï finds a fax inviting the orchestra to play at Pleyel, in Paris, in two weeks’ time, as a last minute replacement for the indisposed San Francisco Philharmonic. Andreï conceives of a crazy notion: he’ll round up his old musician buddies, a motley bunch now scraping a living in Moscow as cab drivers, removal men, flea market traders, suppliers of porno film sound effects… They’ll go to Paris as the Bolshoi. They’ll defy destiny and take their revenge! Will they make it?

Director's Statement

My collaborator Alain-Michel Blanc and I went to Russia for two weeks first in order to meet the people who would be the inspiration for our characters. For me we are talking about the relationship between the individual and the community, which takes us back to today’s crisis. We observe today that we have reached the ultimate degree of individualism and that human beings are out of step with the world: they’d like to keep the individual’s fundamental rights while going back to a society that’s a bit more united. I discovered that Tchaikovsky’s concerto couldn’t be harmonious if the violin and the orchestra did not complement each other: if the violin doesn’t sound good, the orchestra drifts away and vice-versa. The two are interlinked. Today’s crisis shows this in a violent way; the link between the individual and the collective must be very strong and in order to find harmony – or happiness – we must try to play in unison as much as we can.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Radu Mihaileanu

Written by: Radu Mihaileanu, Matthew Robbins, Alain-Michel Blanc

Produced by: Alain Attal

Cinematography: Laurent Dailland

Editing: Ludovic Troch

Production Design: Cristian Niculescu

Cast: Ramzy Bedia, Dmitry Nazarov, Mélanie Laurent, François Berleand, Miou Miou, Valeri Barinov, Anna Kamenkova Pavlova, Lionel Abelanski, Alexander Komissarov, Alexeï Guskov

Nominations and Awards

  • European Screenwriter 2010
  • Feature Film Selection 2010