Cannes: 'Loveless' Filmmakers Say They "Didn't Need to Embarrass" Russian Authorities After 'Leviathan'

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From left: 'Loveless' director Andrey Zvyagintsev with stars Maryana Spivak and Alexey Rozin

Andrey Zvyagintsev's latest film, which appears in competition at the fest, was made without any Russian state funding.

Returning to Cannes with Loveless three years after his acclaimed Leviathan, director Andrey Zvyagintsev and his producer Alexander Rodnyansky spoke about the aftermath of his multiple award-winning 2014 film, which was seen as heavily critical of Russian political society.

"The [Russian] Ministry of Culture went to great pains to emphasize how much they disliked Leviathan and their desire to avoid the repetition of this kind of mistake in the future," Rodnyansky said Thursday at the Loveless press conference ahead of the film's world premiere.

The drama centers on a couple who, while going through a divorce, must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments. With 35 percent of Leviathan's funding coming from the Russian state, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky later proposed guidelines that would ban films that would "defile" the country. For this reason, when making Loveless, Rodnyansky said that he sought to avoid any state funding at all.

"I made a conscious decision to do this without any state involvement," he said, adding that Loveless — backed by Wild Bunch — was a Russia, France, Germany and Belgium co-production. "I decided we didn't need to embarrass them again and to do the film on our own."

Despite claiming that state funding is still the most important source of financing filmmaking in Russia, Rodnyansky said that there was a new legion of filmmakers also looking to go it alone. "It's changing. At the Kinotavr film festival in Sochi this year, nine movies out of 14 in the competition were financed without state involvement," he said.

Although Zvyagintsev avoided discussing political matters, he responded to a claim from a member of the press that in showing Russian propaganda against Ukraine in certain scenes, Loveless was in itself a piece of Russian propaganda. "Certainly not," he said, shaking his head. "If you saw Leviathan, then you know where I stand vis-a-vis the powers that be. It's not supposed to be propaganda at all in this episode. You do see these scenes on TV. It's Russian life, Russian society, Russian anguish at the end of the day. But it's also universal, not just Russian."

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