Director of Cannes Best Screenplay Winner 'Leviathan' Defends Film's 'Bad Language'


Andrei Zvyagintsev suggested the film carry a warning rather than be subject to editing to qualify for local distribution under a new Russian law.

The director of Russian film Leviathan, winner of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival's best screenplay award, has suggested the film carry a warning about bad language rather than submit to editing under stringent new local distribution laws that come into effect in July.

Andrei Zvyagintsev said that to secure general release in Russia, the film -- which has already sold to more than 40 territories including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia -- would have to comply with the new law.

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Brushing aside suggestions that to get a distribution license he would have to edit out bad language, Zvyagintsev said: "I don't think we misuse [swearing] in the film. Every word was weighed and considered.

"It's impossible to emasculate language; prohibitive measures are unsuitable here."

He suggested the film carry a warning about bad language, allowing those who would be offended by it to avoid the film.

Zvyagintsev also addressed public comments by Russia's Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, who said that though the film was "talented," he disliked it.

Speaking at a Moscow press conference, the director said he wasn't happy to hear that the minister disliked the film but respected his point of view.

To applause, he added: "The world is diverse. I hope the authorities understand that. I am committed to living in Russia and continuing to make movies here."

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His comments, reported by the Rossikaya Gazeta, a government newspaper, suggest a degree of official acceptance for his views.

Last week Zvyaginstev, anticipating a negative official reaction, told The Hollywood Reporter that the degree to which Russian officials accepted his film would depend on their "depth of understanding" of the world.

The film tells the story of a car mechanic who loses everything when the mayor of a small town far from Moscow decides he wants the man's quayside property. Zvyagintsev says it represents the abuse of power worldwide, though it is unflinching in its portrayal of the corruption of contemporary politics in Russia.

Alexander Rodnyansky, the film's producer, said that it had been financially supported by the Ministry of Culture after an open pitching session at which the script was approved.