Russian director Yury Bykov continues a prolific streak with sixth feature The Owner, a Russian-Swiss-UK co-pro with Ilya Stewart, Pavel Buria and Murad Osmann of Moscow’s Hype Film on board. The new project is a welcome continuation, especially considering Bykov had announced his retirement from cinema after 2018’s The Factory due to critiques and misinterpretation of his intentions directing the television series “Sleepers” in 2017, which many saw as a defense of Russia’s tyrannical regime and a betrayal from Bykov, whose films are social commentaries about contemporary Russian life. Bykov has increasingly become one of Russia’s most well-traveled and internationally recognized directors over the past decade. His 2013 sophomore film The Major played at Critic’s Week in Cannes and his 2014 title The Fool won several prizes in competition at the Locarno Film Festival. The Factory premiered at TIFF in 2018, while his 2019 title Guard hasn’t received a premiere outside of Russia yet.
Gist: Bykov announced his latest film would be about the bitter class divide in Russia, asking questions about whether it’s possible for an ordinary Russian man to become independent of his Owner, and if so, what the price would be for this freedom.
Release Date/Prediction: In September, it was announced Bykov would begin principal photography on The Owner in October. The title is co-produced by Paris-based Charades, who also rep Kirill Serebrennikov, suggesting Bykov could potentially make a return to Cannes in 2021, perhaps in Un Certain Regard.