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Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2015: #6. Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s Dau


Director: Ilya Khrzhanovsky // Writers: Ilya Khrzhanovsky, Susanne Marian, Vladimir Sorokin

Long touted as one of the most ambitious Russian films ever made (but perhaps one of the most ambitious film projects in the history of cinema itself) is Dau from director Ilya Khrzhanovsky. Over 700 hours of footage, a shoot that eclipsed six years amidst the director’s construction of a town that worked and operated as if it were a real place existing within a 1950’s timeframe, several published interviews and reports with those who experience set visits have come away describing something that sounds like pure madness. The extended shoot ended in a grand baccnalian bonfire three years ago, and in late 2013 it was announced that the film was locked in post-production in London labs, where a crew of people were struggling to piece it together into something rumored to be around two hours in length. Khrzhanovsky, who had only one other feature length film to his credit, the mesmerizing 2005 film 4, a strange and mesmerizing allegory of contemporary Russian society, received unprecedented funding for the endeavor, so we’re certain that something, somehow, somewhere will eventually have to be shown. We’ve all been doggedly waiting and our annual lists reflect an eager anticipation that it will be announced around Cannes. The film, simply, is biopic about the legendary Nobel-prize-winning Soviet physicist Lev Landau, but has become a real life version of Synecdoche, New York.

Cast: Teodor Currentzis, Youriy Alekseev, Radmila Shchyogoleva

Production Co.: Essential Filmproduktion GmbH, Phenomen Films, Phenomen Ukraine, Plattform Production, Société Parisienne de Production

U.S. Distributor: Rights available.

Release Date: Well over a year in post-production and with no word on a possible release, we really want to believe that Cannes 2015 will finally be the year we see Khrzhanovsky’s now mythical film come to light. We haven’t given up hope, and don’t intend to.


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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