Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev
Screenwriters: Oleg Negin

Institute History


We are proud to welcome back Andrei Zvyagintsev (whose first feature, The Return, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004) with his extraordinarily gripping new film, Elena—made with support from the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award.

Elena has a warm but passionless late-in-life marriage with wealthy Vladimir, to whom she is more caretaker than spouse. Each has grown children from previous relationships, but Vladimir is dedicated to his distant, spoiled daughter and resents having to provide financial aid to Elena’s hapless, unemployed son and his struggling family. As Vladimir’s health declines, and he makes concrete plans to leave everything to his own offspring, Elena must decide swiftly between her loyalty to her husband and her allegiance to her own flesh and blood.

Part domestic thriller, part morality play, all a comment on contemporary Russian class warfare, Elena delivers an intense and haunting experience, offering keen insight into human nature. Throughout, the chilling tension is sustained and heightened by Philip Glass’s striking music and Zvyagintsev’s stark visual style.

— Heidi Zwicker

Screening Details

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