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A film by Andrey Zvyagintsev


From the acclaimed director of THE RETURN comes a film noir fueled by class warfare in Putin’s new Russia. Sixtyish spouses Vladimir and Elena share his expensively decorated glass and chrome Moscow apartment. He’s a virile, wealthy businessman; she’s his dowdy former nurse who “married up.” Estranged from his own wild-child daughter, Vladimir openly resents his wife’s ne’er do well son and family. But when a sudden illness threatens Elena’s potential inheritance, she must hatch a desperate plan. This stylish, suspenseful domestic thriller is punctuated by Philip Glass’s entrancing, Hitchcockian music.


Winner, Special Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard, 2011 Cannes Film Festival.


This project is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts' Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (




“A wise and impeccably controlled drama that finds Russian helmer Andrey Zvyagintsev in outstanding form… A taut, engrossing yarn about a coveted inheritance, cruel class differences and quietly monstrous misdeeds.”
– Justin Chang, Variety

*****! 5 STARS!
[5 out of 5]
SENSATIONAL! The taut dramatic structure of a Dostoyevsky parable, matched with mesmerising long-take technique, a hushed, disquieting soundscape, and images that jangle in your head for days... A floating, metaphysical suspense that suggests a dinner date between Hitchcock and Dreyer."

– Tim Robey, The Telegraph

"STUNNING! One of 2011's most accomplished films from any country."
– Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“CRITICS’ PICK.  Gripping. For Mr. Zvyagintsev… it is a brilliant comeback! Perhaps the foremost artistic heir to Andrei Tarkovsky. The movie’s acute aural awareness of the animal kingdom within the city underscores its vision of Moscow as a jungle teeming with predatory wildlife. Ms. Markina’s grand, subtle performance reinforces the film’s view of her as its most compassionate character.”
– Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Click here to read the full review.

“(The filmmaker) has been hailed as the heir to the Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky. The sense that he views life – and the Russian condition – as a series of moral challenges is apparent. ELENA is set unmistakably in today’s Moscow. On the surface the socio- economic lines could not be more clearly drawn: the film cuts between Moscow’s most elite neighborhood, near the Kremlin, and the industrial sprawl and crumbling Soviet-era housing on its outskirts. Elena…lives with her older, much richer husband…and their relationship speaks volumes about alienation exploitation and attraction.”
– Sophia Kishkovsky, The New York Times
Click here to read the full piece.

****! 4 STARS!
[four stars]
CRITICS’ PICK. Zvyagintsev’s bold morality tale asks a thorny question under the guise of a sleek near-thriller. Rarely do movies… explore an honest-to-God ethnical quandary. ELENA, in its concentrated austerity, often resembles a lost chapter of Kieslowski’s Ten Commandments-themed DECALOGUE.”

– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

“With taciturn camerawork and a scalpel-like precision dissecting class that recalls Claude Chabrol, Zvyagintsev’s film observes Elena making the decision of which family to be loyal to.”
– Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice





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ELENA Filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev in person (Recorded May 16, 2012)