Cannes: Russian Culture Minister Snubs 'Leviathan'

1:20 AM PST 05/23/2014 by Nick Holdsworth, Vladimir Kozlov
"Leviathan"

The government figure said Russia's sole competition entry, which has been praised by critics, is "talented" but not to his liking, and he will skip the red carpet screening in Cannes.

Russia's minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky has snubbed the makers of the country's Cannes Golden Palm contender Leviathan, cancelling plans to join the film's delegation at tonight's red carpet premiere at the festival.

Medinsky, who viewed the film at a private screening in Moscow earlier this week, told official news agency RIA Novosti that he "did not like it" and felt it could do without the "abundant profanity" in the script.

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"The film won't suffer from cutting profanity out of it," he said. "The film is talented but I did not like it."

Under new laws due to be introduced July 1, films distributed in Russia that contain swearing must either block the words or edit them out.

Andrei Zvyagintsev, director of Leviathan, said in order to get a Russian distribution license the film would adhere to the law, but he added that it did not apply to festival screenings.

At early press screenings in Cannes, the film has won rave reviews. THR critic Leslie Felperin wrote that it is Zvyagintsev's "best and most courageous [work] so far."

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The 141-minute film, which tells the story of a man whose life and family are destroyed when a corrupt and powerful local politician seizes his property, is due to be the closing movie at next month's Russian national film festival, Kinotavr, which takes place in Sochi, the Black Sea resort that hosted the Winter Olympics.

Zvyaginstev is due in Cannes tonight along with members of the cast, including lead actress Elena Lyadova, the film's cinematographer Mikhail Krichman and producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

A spokesman for Rodnyansky declined to comment when asked about the Medinsky's view on the film and decision not to attend.

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