Russian-Estonian-French film vying for Venice's Golden Lion award

A scene from the film
A scene from the film "Captain Volkonogov Escaped"/ Source: pressimaterjalid

"Captain Volkonogov Escaped," a co-produced film by Russia, Estonia and France, has been selected for the competition program of the Venice Film Festival 2021.

The film by directors Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov is the first ever film connected with Estonia to be nominated for the Golden Lion. The film was co-produced by Katrin Kissa from Homeless Bob Productions and its cinematography is by Mart Taniel. 

Taking place for the 78th time from September 1 to 11 this year, the Venice Film Festival is the world's oldest film festival. The chairman of the jury is multiple Oscar winning director Bong Joon-ho, the author of the film "Parasite," and new works by Jane Campion, Pedro Almodovar, Pablo Larrain and other top directors are also part of the competition program.

Merkulova and Chupov, the directors of "Captain Volkonogov Escaped," have been working with Estonian cinematographer Mart Taniel for a long time. In addition to his work as a cinematographer, Taniel is also a co-writer of the screenplay.

The film's crew also includes Estonian lighting designer Taivo Tenso and sound director Matis Rei. Its special effects were created by Tallinn Postworks in collaboration with colleagues from Moscow-based 1-2-3 Production and the film's graphic design is by Margus Tamm.

The previous collaboration of Merkulova, Chupov and Taniel, "The Man Who Surprised Everyone," screened at the 2018 Venice Festival side program Orizzonti, where it was awarded the Best Actress prize.

Producer Katrin Kissa described "Captain Volkonogov Escaped" as a collaboration which has its origins primarily in the creative match between the authors.

"Mart Taniel has been with the directors since their first film, taking a step towards a deeper and deeper understanding with each new film. Over time, more and more Estonians have joined Merkulova and Chupov's team, and they have also made a significant contribution to the making of the film that will premiere in Venice. We are extremely pleased that this long journey together has reached such a high level of recognition," said Kissa.  

"Captain Volkonogov Escaped" is a fast-paced story of pre-death repentance marathon for a captain of the Soviet security service NKVD, Fedor Volkonogov, set against the backdrop of the 1938 political persecutions in the USSR.

The title character in "Captain Volkonogov Escaped" is played by Yuri Borisov, a rising star of Russia who also played the male lead in the film "Compartment No. 6," which was also made in co-production with Estonia and which won the Grand Prix in Cannes earlier this month. 

The production of "Captain Volkonogov Escaped" was supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture, Kinoprime, the Estonian Film Institute, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the European film fund Eurimages. The film's production companies are Place of Power and LOOK FILM from Russia, Homeless Bob Production from Estonia and Kinovista from France.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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