What is the film about?
The action takes place in France during World War II. Russian émigré and Resistance member Olga Kamenskaya is detained by the police for trying to save two Jewish children. Jules, a French policeman and a Nazi collaborator, is willing to make concessions for her, but Olga winds up in a concentration camp where she meets S.S. officer Helmut, a Chekhov admirer who joined the S.S. in hopes of creating a paradise on Earth.
The scenes in the film alternate with interviews with the protagonists in which each talks about his or her childhood, family life, profession and the reasons they chose to support one side or the other.
Who stars in the film?
Olga is played by actress Yulia Vysotskaya, who is also director Konchalovsky’s wife. Helmut is portrayed by Christian Claus, and Jules, by Philippe Duquesne. Other actors include: Jakob Diehl, Peter Kurth, Viktor Sukhorukov and Vera Voronkova.
Which awards has the film received?
The film premiered on Sept. 8, 2016 at the Venice Film Festival and won the Silver Lion for Best Director.
In the last 10 years, Russian films and directors had received five prizes in Venice: Nikita Mikhalkov (Special Lion, 2007), Alexei German, Jr. (Silver Lion for the film The Paper Soldier, 2008), Mikhail Krichman (Golden Osella for Best Cinematography for Silent Souls, 2010), Alexander Sokurov (Golden Lion for Faust, 2011) and Konchalovsky himself (Silver Lion for The Postman’s White Nights, 2014).
*Featured image: Paradise director Andrei Konchalovsky . Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema di Venezia.