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Esau – Pavel Lungin

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #134. Esau – Pavel Lungin

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #134. Esau – Pavel Lungin


For his eleventh feature film, Russian director Pavel Lungin makes his English language debut with Esau. Produced by Lungin, Serafima Kohkanovskaya, Haim Mecklberg and Estee Yacov-Mecklberg through 2-Team Productions, the film features the work of cinematographer Fred Keleman (Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse, 2011) and a stellar international cast including Harvey Keitel, Lior Ashkenazi, Kseniya Rappaport, Shira Haas and Yulia Peresild. Lungin is one of Russia’s most noted post-Soviet Union directors, coming to prominence with his 1990 debut Taxi Blues, which competed at Cannes and nabbed a Best Director award and a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury. He returned to the Cannes competition in 1992 with sophomore film Luna Park and again in 2000 with The Wedding. His 2009 title Tsar played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. In 2007, Lungin competed in the World Cinema Dramatic program at Sundance with The Island, which was an out-of-competition title in Venice 2006.

Gist: Based on the celebrated 1991 novel by Meir Shalev, which follows a 40-year-old writer who returns home after half a lifetime to revisit his twin brother who stole his life and livelihood in Israel (loosely modeled on the biblical story of Jacob and Esau).

Release Date/Prediction: Filmed in southern Israel in a one-month shoot last spring, Esau could potentially be Lungin’s first time competing in Berlin. If not, a variety of venues could provide a likely premiere, from Rotterdam to a Cannes sidebar to a return to Tallinn Black Nights (where his last feature, 2016’s The Queen of Spades premiered).

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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