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Directed by Kira Kovalenko (Sofichka), Unclenching the Fists premiered in Cannes, where it won the top prize for best film in the festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar.
Newcomer Milana Aguzarova stars as Ada, a woman stuck in a dead-end industrial town in the North Ossetia section of Russia. Caught between the demands of her older brother and ailing but still domineering father, she struggles to break free. Unclenching the Fists was produced by Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov, producers of the Oscar-nominated Leviathan (2014). Arthouse streamer MUBI picked up Unclenching the Fists for North America and the U.K. after its Cannes debut.
Historically, entries from Russia and, pre-1989 the Soviet Union, have been regular contenders for the best international trophy at the Academy Awards, but a Russian film has not won the Oscars since 1994, when Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun took the top prize.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will announce the shortlist for the 2022 Oscars on Dec. 21. Nominations will be announced on Feb. 8. The 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27, 2022.
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