Russian Venice Winner Pulls Film From Foreign-Language Oscar Consideration

Venice Film Festival Poster 2014 Still

Andrei Konchalovsky withdraws his Silver Lion winner before the country picks its contender, citing Russia's "Hollywoodization"

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky has withdrawn his film The Postman's White Nights, which recently won him the best director's Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, from consideration as Russia's foreign-language Oscar race entry.

He said he didn't want his film to compete for a "Hollywood" award, arguing its importance was overblown.

"Over the last few years, I have sharply criticized the "Hollywoodization" of the Russian market and bad influence of commercial American cinema on the formation of tastes and preferences of our viewers," Konchalovsky said in a letter to the Russian Oscar Committee. "Given that, competing for a Hollywood prize would be absurd for me."

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According to the director, his other reason for withdrawing his film was that "the Oscar award is today extremely overestimated by some filmmakers, creating an illusion of international recognition, and is believed be a testimony of unquestionable quality of a film, which, certainly, isn't true."

The Russian Oscar committee is expected to announce the country's entry in the best foreign-language film race in the coming days. Prior to Konchalovsky's move, his film was viewed as one of the likeliest candidates for the Russian nomination, alongside Andrei Zvyagintsev's Leviathan, the winner of the best screenplay award in Cannes.

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The lineup of the Russian Oscar committee underwent a major reshuffling following a controversy three years ago. Back then, the committee's head Vladimir Menshov refused to sign the final protocol out of protest against the decision to nominate Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun 2: Citadel.