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Ilya Khrzhanovsky Dau

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2018: # 15. Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s Dau


A contemporary cinematic legend, Russian director Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s Dau has been a highly anticipated film project for the past decade. Now over twelve years in the making, beginning with a filming period which began in 2006 and lasted for six years, Dau is supposedly a biopic on famed Russian scientist Lev Landau—but Khrzhanovsky created his own kind of immersive cinematic landscape a la Synecdoche, New York (2008) and razed his communal period set-pieces in a famous funeral pyre/bacchanalian celebration. We had given up hope of ever seeing this spectacle, or how it could ever be fashioned into any semblance of narrative. A few straggling journalistic reports about set visits were as intriguing as they were troubling, especially considering Khrzhanovsky’s (who previously directed an excellent social drama 4 in 2004) frame of mind. A team of editors charged with sifting through the reels of footage (which included work from cinematographs Lol Crawley, Jurgen Jurges, and Manuel Alberto Claro), and reports from production company Phenom Films have been tight-lipped. In August, 2017, the latest comprehensive article on Dau published on suggested a potential release of the film somewhere in some form in October of 2017, which clearly didn’t transpire. However, these small rumors give us hope of Dau finally reaching an audience, either as an art installation or some form of cinema come 2018.

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Release Date/Prediction: While it’s impossible to predict considering its mysterious origin story, we hope Dau shows up somewhere on the festival circuit. Given the chance to show even a segment of such a monolithic, legendary film, we’d be surprised if Cannes wasn’t interested in showing some form of the film out-of-competition or as a Special Screening.

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), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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