• Golden Globe Awards

The Student (Russia)

The famous Russian and international theater director Kirill Serebrennikov who also regularly forays into directing films, is no stranger to the Golden Globes. His film Playing the Victim (2006), a contemporary Russian take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet ,was in competition for the best film in the Foreign Language category.This year Sergebrennikov is again in the running for a Golden Globe nomination with another film version of a stage play. The Student is based on the play Martyr by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg which Serebrennikov staged in Germany and in his Moscow theater, Gogol Center. Once again for his newest film Serebrennikov changes countries – Germany becomes Russia, with all her contemporary troubles.Veniamin Yuzhin (Pyotr Skvotysov)  is a teenage boy in a Russian provincial town who, as a reaction to the spiritual and material depravity he perceives around him, suddenly embraces Russian Orthodox Christian fundamentalism. The immersion is radical and complete he basically speaks only in quotes from the Bible. He also acts accordingly, refusing to take swimming lessons in physical education class because his female classmates wear bikinis to swim. Veniamin is so aggressive and proactive in his zealotry that only his atheist biology teacher Elena Krasnova (Viktorya Isakova) tries to return him to normalcy. But the other teachers and students start to succumb to this religious bullying. The school literally loses colors when all students start to wear black and white clothes.The intentions of Serebrennikov here are clear – he makes this school a microcosm of contemporary Russia where quite a few aggressive acts by Orthodox fundamentalists against free artistic and political expression – such as trashing art expositions or interrupting theater plays not to their liking – have gone unpunished by the government.The Student received the Francois Chalais Prize at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival.