The Oscar-nominated Russian film Leviathan is going on general release in Russian cinemas, but with silence blanking out the many swear words.
It is a highly controversial film in Russia, portraying a corrupt mayor in the bleak far north bullying a man trying to keep his property.The distributor, A-Company Russia, says the film has not been cut, but Russian cinema-goers will not hear swear words. Russian law bans swearing in films, TV broadcasts, theatres and the media.Much of the dialogue in Leviathan contains swearing, some of it very strong language. A spokesman for the distributor said Russian viewers “will find it easy to lip-read the swear words”.Leviathan is already on show in London and it received a best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival last May.It also won a Golden Globe for best foreign film and in Russia it got a Golden Eagle award.Demand for Leviathan among Russian cinemas has outstripped predictions, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reports.It will be shown in 650 cinemas – more than double the number that had been anticipated.The film’s producer, Alexander Rodnyansky, said interest had surged since a pirated copy appeared on the internet a month ago and the film had become a hot topic of debate.Director Andrey Zvyagintsev said he was pleased that the film had sharply divided opinion in Russia.”The film is necessary, the audience confirms that,” he was quoted as saying on the Newsru.com website (in Russian).”Society and the country are divided. The polarised viewpoints indicate that we hit the target,” he said.Some have seen the film as a condemnation of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. A big photo of Mr Putin hangs above the corrupt mayor’s desk.However, Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was pleased that Leviathan had triggered such sharp reactions in society.