Ukraine’s Oleg Sentsov, who was infamously arrested and held in a Moscow prison in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, wherein Sentsov became the subject of fabricated terrorism charges, was finally released in September, 2019 and returned to his family in Kyiv. During his highly publicized travails, which included a 145 day hunger strike in 2018, Sentsov co-directed a new feature from prison, the dystopic Numbers, with help on the outside from actor/director Akhtem Seitablayev (a Crimean Tatar who recently starred in Narimen Aliev’s Homeward, which premiered at 2019 Cannes in Un Certain Regard and is Ukraine’s official Academy Award submission). The film is produced by Ukraine’s Anna Palenchuk and co-produced by Dariusz Jablonski, President of the Polish Film Academy. Sentsov’s 2011 debut Gamer traveled the European festival circuit and won awards at the 2012 Odessa International Film Festival (where footage from his latest feature was also unveiled in July, 2019).
Gist: Numbers, based on Sentsov’s play, portrays a rigid, closed society run by a strict, totalitarian leader with absurd rules named Zero. All the ‘numbers’ are forced to obey Zero, but the rebellious Seven begins to question his rule.
Release Date/Prediction: Numbers was in post-production as of July 2019, and with Sentsov’s release several months later, we’re assuming this should have a high-profile berth in 2020. A comp slot in Berlin seems the most likely, and earliest chance for the title, but we can’t rule out a Cannes 2020 premiere, likely in Un Certain Regard.