It is no coincidence that in Russian, the word for student, uchenik, is so close to the word for martyr, muchenik. In director Kirill Serebrennikov’s wildly kinetic masterpiece, both roles become blurred in the figure of Venya, a high school student who becomes obsessed with Christian doctrine. Empowered by his newfound faith, Venya embarks on a right-wing crusade to reform his school, challenging everything from bikinis to evolution to the industrial revolution.
Adapted from Marius von Mayenburg’s play, Serebrennikov serves up a pointed satire of Russia’s tight-fisted control through the omnipotence of religion. As tensions between Venya and his skeptics grow thicker, the film’s artful cinematography draws a tighter orbit around him through long takes and a sparse colour palette. Like its relentless protagonist, The Student slams head-on into the issues of the day with a merciless energy that never abates.
- Kirill Serebrennikov is a film and theatre director who strives to push boundaries with every production. His film Yuri’s Day (2008) competed for the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival, and screened at the 22nd Singapore International Film Festival. The Student won the François Chalais Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.
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