Andrey Zvyagintsev and Alexander Rodnyansky, the director and producer of Leviathan, accepted the Golden Globe tonight for Best Foreign Language film, another in a long list of prizes the movie has amassed since debuting in Cannes and scooping Best Screenplay honors there. A treatise on corruption at the State level which includes elements of the biblical story of Job, Leviathan is also Russia’s Foreign Language Oscar entry. It made the December shortlist, now has a BAFTA nomination and this weekend took the top FIPRESCI prize in Palm Springs. In the past four years, Golden Globe winners In A Better World, A Separation, Amour and The Great Beauty have gone on to scoop the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Prior to 2010, however, there were often mismatches between the eventual victors. Oscar nominations are this Thursday. Sony Pictures Classics released Leviathan on December 25.
Given the film’s subject matter it was not always certain it would be the Russian Oscar entry, but in a nice win for free speech nowadays, it had a lot of backing from the local film industry, Zvyagintsev told me in December. The story follows Kolya who is forced to fight his town’s corrupt mayor when told that his house is to be demolished.
Accepting the Golden Globe on stage this evening in Los Angeles, Zvyagintsev, who was previously nominated with 2003’s The Return, expressed joy before passing the microphone over to Rodnyansky who said, “The more we think about the fortunate fate of our movie, the more we believe that it doesn’t matter whether you are Korean, American, Russian, or French. A tragic story of an ordinary man who comes face‑to‑face with an indifferent system is absolutely universal.”
Backstage, Rodnyansky translated for Zvyaginstev. The pair said they are gratified by the “great support” from the Russian press. Said Zvyagintsev: “We are very proud to be part of this lineup, we had seen (the other nominees) before they were nominated by the Golden Globes.” The key to creating such a controversial movie, the director added, is “passion and patience. This is risky business.”
Sony Pictures Classics Co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard were clearly uncowed when they first saw the movie in Cannes. Barker told me last month they had a deal done within six hours of the screening.