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Cinema Talks > 2015 Winter and Spring (Season 8)

Cine Club: Wednesday 8 April 2015 (7 pm - Open to ALL)

Title:                The Return
Director:         Andrei Zvyagintsev (Russia)
Released:        2003
Language:       Russian (Eng S/T)
Duration:        1 hour and 35 min
Key Actors:     Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko
Interesting Links about the Film:
Trailer on YouTube: Click Here
Wikipedia Click Here
Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Click Here
Roger Ebert Click Here
New York Times Click Here      
Observer Click Here
Synopsis: (adapted from Movie Gazette Click Here)
The Return is concerned with the unexpected return, after a twelve-year absence, of the boys' father, who takes his sons on a fishing/business trip that ends in intrigue and tragedy on a deserted island - but all of the motifs which appear in its opening sequence - high towers, dangerous waters, brotherly conflict, fear of the unknown, and the terrifying, exhilarating plunge into adulthood - will also make a return to the surface.
The film was originally scripted by Vladimir Moiseenko and Alexander Novototsky as a conventional thriller, but in his impressive cinematic debut, director Andrey Zvyagintsev has stripped down the screenplay, pushing all genre elements to the film's murky margins. Instead the boys' differing relationships to their father (Andrej all obedient and eager to please, Ivan suspicious and reluctant to be initiated into manhood) is brought into intense focus, so that the film's many unresolved mysteries - who is the father and why has he returned, where has he been to make him so sick of the taste of fish, what exactly is the nature of his business and why is he so determined to get to the island? - seem merely to underscore the boys' rites of passage that form the film's fundamental mystery.
The plot of 'The Return', its isolated locations and its tiny cast of characters (only two of whom are named in the film) are all marked by an austere economy, but Zvyagintsev makes such minimalism resonate deeply with mythological and religious symbolism. Its events span seven days (the length of the Creation), Ivan's relationship with his parents is positively Oedipal, while the father falls somewhere between a returned Odysseus, a resurrected Jesus and a revenant ghost. So the world of 'The Return' is, for all its starkness, full of evocative detail, recalling the poetic suggestiveness of the films of Tarkovsky. Indeed, The Return, which won the Golden Lion at last year's Venice Film Festival, might just herald the return of great Russian cinema.
Andrei Zvyagintsev (adapted from IMDB Click Here)
A Russian actor and film-maker noted for his exceptionally successful debut in directing with award-winning drama The Return (2003). Born on February, 6, 1964 in a northern city of Novisibirsk, he graduated from the Novosibirsk Actors School in 1984 and started to play on stage in provincial theatres. In the early 1990s he came to Moscow - the centre of film industry - with ambition to star in movies. Moscow was tough for a newcomer. As Znyagintsev put it later in one of his interviews: "I was hungry, in need of work, I auditioned for everything. I even did not have money to buy a bus ticket." From 1992 to 2000 he appeared as "extra" on numerous TV series and feature films but with no positive results. Suddenly his friend offered him a job as director at REN TV, an independent production company that makes cop shows and day-time soaps. When he got his chance to direct, Zvyagintsev did his best, he directed several episodes for popular TV series and impressing producers with his skills, he got the offer to direct a feature length. The Return - a low budget, artful family drama- turned out to be a great success for Zvyagintsev and an international triumph for Russian cinema. The film won the Venice Festival's Golden Lion in 2003-the first Russian film to be awarded such an honor for a number of years.
When Zvyagintsev returned in Moscow from Venice, he was given a hero's welcome. He unexpectedly found himself in the centre of a media storm and after a series of interviews and appearances on TV he became a recluse. It is rumored that he is preparing (of has already started) the shooting of his second film every detail of which is a top secret. Although no official information is available to verify or dispel these rumors, the actor-turned-director is likely to face a dilemma whether to remain a single masterpiece creator in the film history or to make his next film, which can maintain his reputation of a genius. There is a risk, however, should his second film be a failure, the critics will regard the success of The Return as a fluke.

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