Russia Selects Karen Shakhnazarov's 'White Tank' for Foreign Oscar Race

The $11 million World War II drama is based on Ilya Boyashov’s novella about a battle between two tanks.

MOSCOW – The Russian Oscar committee has announced Karen Shakhnazarov’s Bely Tigr (White Tiger) as the country’s contender in the best foreign-language movie Oscar race.

The $11 million World War II drama is based on Ilya Boyashov’s novella Tankist Ili Bely Tigr (Tankman or White Tiger) and focused on the story of a Russian tankman who nearly gets killed when his tank burns down but eventually recovers to enter a deadly fight with a mysterious Nazi “White Tiger” tank.

The movie was released last May and grossed $3.3 million at the Russian box office, according to the database KinoPoisk. In the past, movies by Shakhnazarov, who is also general director of the film studio Mosfilm, took part in a number of international festivals, most notably Tsareubiytsa (Assassin of the Tsar), which was part of the official selection at Cannes back in 1991.

The Russian Oscar committee has never announced its short list for Russia’s entry in the Academy Award best foreign language movie race, but some local sources named Alexander Sokurov’s Faust, which collected the Golden Lion at Venice last year and Andrei Proshkin’s Orda (The Horde), the winner of the best director award at this year’s Moscow International Film Festival, as other strong contenders.

Last year, controversy stirred up over the decision by the Russian Oscar committee to name Nikita Mikhalkov’s Utomlennye Solntsem II. Tsitadel (Burnt by the Sun II. Citadel) as Russia’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race, and the committee’s chairman, Vladimir Menshov, refused to sign the final protocol out of disagreement with the decision. There were calls to change the selection procedure after that, but nothing has changed so far.