Russia’s submission for consideration in the best foreign-language film Oscar category, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s drama Loveless, played in competition this week at the international cinematography festival Camerimage, where the winners will be announced Saturday in Bydgoczsz, Poland.
Cinematographer Mikhail Krichman is no stranger to the fest; he won the main competition’s Golden Frog in 2014 for Oscar nominee Leviathan, another film resulting from his longtime collaboration with Zvyagintsev. He additionally claimed the Silver Frog in 2010 for Aleksey Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls.
In Loveless, set on the outskirts of Moscow, Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Alexey Rozin) are going through a vicious divorce. Already embarking on new lives, each with a new partner, they are impatient to start again and neither wants to take their 12-year-old son Alyosha. But then, after witnessing one of their fights, Alyosha disappears.
Speaking at a Camerimage press conference following the unspooling of the film, Krichman said he wanted to give Loveless a documentary style with realistic, natural lighting: “We wanted to make it as real as possible. … That was Andrey’s idea.”
The camera also stays fairly steady. “The camera moves are not as much as what happens inside the shot. The movement is inside the shot,” said Krishman, confirming that he often put the actors in front of windows because “I like silhouettes. I like details behind windows.”
Much of the film was shot outdoors on location, as well as inside an abandoned building where the adults also search for Alyosha. The apartments were sets.
Incidentally, this was the cinematographer’s first outing with a digital camera (he used an Arri Alexa). Krichman admitted to having had a “bad experience” with the Russia-based lab on Leviathan, noting “the film people are gone.” But as to the look, he opined that digital “isn’t better or worse [than film], just different.”