Screened as part of NZIFF 2011

Elena 2011

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev

A riveting family drama and a chilling portrait of social relations in capitalist Russia, this new film from the director of The Return won a Special Jury Award at Cannes. “Tense, edge-of-the-seat stuff.” — The Guardian

Russia In Russian with English subtitles
109 minutes CinemaScope


Alexander Rodnyansky
Sergey Melkumov


Oleg Negin
Andrey Zvyagintsev


Mikhail Krichman


Anna Mass

Production designers

Vasiliy Gritskov
Valeriy Zhukov

Art directors

Andrey Ponkratov
Maxim Korsakov

Set decorators

Andrey Grachev
Sasha Lozovsky
Victoria Kudinova
Inna Saltikova

Costume designers

Anna Bartuli
Nastia Vishnevskaya
Tatyana Chernyakova


Andrey Dergachev
Stas Krechkov


Philip Glass


Andrey Smirnov (Vladimir)
Nadezhda Markina (Elena)
Elena Lyadova (Katerina)
Alexey Rozin (Sergey)
Evgenia Konushkina (Tatyana)
Igor Ogurtsov (Sasha)
Vasiliy Michkiv (lawyer)
Alexey Maslodudov (Vitek)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2011


Special Jury Prize (Un Certain Regard), Cannes Film Festival 2011


The new film from the director of The Return (NZIFF04) is a riveting family drama and a chilling portrait of social relations in capitalist Russia. At its centre is Elena, caught between her wealthy new husband’s family and her wastrel son from an earlier marriage. Elena took the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, awarded by a jury that included Emir Kusturica and Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw. — BG

“A middle-aged wife and mother is driven to desperate, decisive action in Elena, a wise and impeccably controlled drama that finds Russian [director] Andrey Zvyagintsev in outstanding form… Fully retaining his fascination with the moral impact of individual choices within a fragile family unit, Zvyagintsev spins a taut, engrossing yarn about a coveted inheritance, cruel class differences and quietly monstrous misdeeds…

In his 2003 debut, The Return, Zvyagintsev evinced an eye for landscapes and a rich sense of biblical allegory, talents he seems to have constructively refocused after the less glowing response to 2007’s The Banishment. Long takes and pregnant silences are still very much hallmarks of his aesthetic, but here that astute visual sense has been placed firmly in service of a taut domestic drama that grips at every step…

Zvyagintsev extends his characters a compassion that bespeaks a bone-deep understanding of human unpredictability, the way people often reveal or emphasize different aspects of themselves depending on who’s listening. No one in this drama is more complex than Elena herself… realized to perfection in Markina’s beautifully nuanced performance, first among equals in a very fine cast.” — Justin Chang, Variety