Russian Oscar Nominee 'Leviathan' Under Fire at Home

Best Foreign-Language Film

Leviathan (Russia) (WINNER)
Force Majeure (Sweden)
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (France)
Ida (Poland)
Tangerines (Estonia)

Activists and legislators attack the film for being "unpatriotic."

Golden Globe-winner and Oscar-nominee Leviathan continues to stir up controversy in Russia as activists have called for one of the film's stars to be fired from his theater job and a legislator demanded that state cash spent on the film be paid back.

A group of activists in Russia's Samara region have sent an open address to the regional culture minister demanding that Valeriy Grishko, an actor who plays an Orthodox priest in Andrey Zvyagintsev's film, be sacked from his job as the head director at the Samara academic drama theater.

The news agency Interfax quoted the letter as saying that Grishko's character was "a cynical and dirty parody of the Russian Orthodox priesthood."

Earlier, a local legislator filed an inquiry about Grishko's salary at the theater, which is partially funded by regional authorities, attacking him for starring in a film that portrays Russia "in a negative light."

Grishko shrugged off the accusations and was quoted by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets as saying that he might file a defamation lawsuit.

Meanwhile, a notorious member of St. Petersburg's parliament, Vitaly Milonov, filed a petition demanding that a non-repayable government subsidy, which accounted for part of Leviathan's budget, be paid back because the film turned out to be "unpatriotic."

"The film is showing Russia in an unfavorable light," said the letter, quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda. "This is a vicious caricature. No one is going to strip the director of his creative freedom. However, as the film was made with state money, every ruble should be used to the benefit of the country."