Director Kantemir Balagov’s award-winning debut feature about a Jewish family under crisis stuns with its glowering commentary on generational conflict and religious divides.
Newcomer Darya Zhovner gives a riveting performance as a spirited, rebellious Ilana, who lives with her brother and parents in a gloomy backwater town in North Caucasus, Russia. Her restless energy chafes against the stern control of her tight-lipped mother and the cloistered mores of the Jewish community. Things take a turn for the worse when her brother and his new fiancée are kidnapped, and the family must use all means to raise money for the ransom.
Her family’s desperate attempts to scrape money together for the kidnappers are interspersed with her drug addled benders with her non-Jewish boyfriend, which sees Ilana repeatedly clash with the seemingly immovable will of her parents. At its wretched heart, Closeness is about the slow death of a vital spirit under the suffocating, oppressive heels of familial obligation, and religious and ethnic discrimination.
Cast & Credits
Russian director and writer Kantemir Balagov’s first feature Closeness premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. His previous works include short films Still Young (2013) and First I (2015).
Nikolay Yankin, Edward Pichugin, Alexander Sokurov
Anton Yarush, Kantemir Balagov
Darya Zhovner, Olga Dragunova, Artem Tsypin
• FIPRESCI Prize, Cannes Fim Festival 2017
• Best Debut, Prize of the Guild of Russian Film Scholars and Film Critics, Sochi Open Russian Film Festival 2017
• In-competition, San Sebastián International Film Festival 2017