After recovering from a prolonged health scare, and newly based in Western Europe, Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev stepped back onto the international stage at this year’s Marrakech Film Festival. Better still, the director of Oscar nominated films “Loveless” and “Leviathan” will soon step back behind the camera, as he readies the oligarch drama “Jupiter,” his first film made outside of his native country. Variety spoke with the filmmaker in Marrakech.
After this significant interval between “Loveless” in 2017 and next year’s shoot, do you feel as if you’re picking back up where you left off or starting anew?
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To be honest with you, I’m hoping to start from scratch. Though extremely difficult to put into words, I’m absolutely convinced that I have new sensibilities, and that I’m at a new stage in my life. In any case, I’m absolutely certain that this new sensibility is not just linked to the passage of time. The events of my life have changed so much since “Loveless,” and I myself have changed as well. I can’t quite describe it, but I’m sure that this newness will be reflected in my next film.
The film will no doubt be more verbose [than my previous work]. Some films are almost silent, but the visuals speak to us. We read the text and subtext through the images on screen. And then on the other side, at the other end of the spectrum, you have the films of Eric Rohmer, which are particularly talkative. Up to this point I haven’t tried to avoid that latter style, I just preferred I to have an observer’s position that was somewhere between the two extremes. Now, I won’t rule out that this next film will maybe be a little closer to Eric Rohmer, and that I’ll probably call things by their name more than before.
Has your perspective on your home country changed since moving abroad?
The force of inertia keeps my mind there, even though my body is somewhere else. I now live in France, but I’ve lived for so long in Russia that I feel, in some ways, that I continue to do so. I continue to breathe in Russia, I continue to feel the Russian context, and so I know that I can continue to bear witness to this society, even if I’m no longer there. Especially as the idea for my next film emerged several years ago, when I was still there. What I don’t know, however, is when the moment will come when I consider that I can no longer bear witness to Russian society. When that will be, I don’t know, but it won’t be now.
What more can you tell us about “Jupiter?”
So, what I can tell you is that I’m planning to shoot in the spring of 2024, in April, May, June, and no doubt I’ll still have a few scenes to do in the autumn. I’ll be shooting in France, I’ll be shooting in Spain, in Palma de Mallorca. That’s where I scouted out where I wanted to shoot. And so, as far as the content of the film is concerned, we’re going to delve into the life of a very wealthy man, into his intimate life, into the conditions in which he lives. We’ll delve into his family.
There’s him, his wife, his child, and there will be a fourth person. But I never say what the film is about beforehand, because I want it to remain a surprise for the viewer. I would like the viewer to discover the film as if they were opening a box. And so it’s complicated to tell you anything more than that. It’s about this life of oligarchs. All I can tell you is that we’re going to stay with a Russian mentality. In any case, he’s in a context of patriarchy, a patriarchy that’s also very particular because we’re in another world. He’s not at home; he’s also in Europe.
In any case, we’re thrilled to see you doing better, and can’t wait for the next film.
Yes, me too!
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