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RUSSIAN ARK

RUSSIAN ARK
photo © Egoli Tossell Film/Hermitag Bridge Studio

An extraordinary journey through time and Russian history. The Marquis de Custine, an 18th century French diplomat with a love/hate relationship to Russia finds himself on a time trip through St. Petersburg's fabled Winter Palace - from the times of Peter the Great to the present day. With him, an invisible Russian filmmaker, who is confused about Russia's position in Europe.

Together they encounter life at the Imperial Palace as it was in different ages. From little backstage love affairs in Catherine the Great's personal theater to the last Grand Royal Ball of 1913. From Peter's humiliation of his coarse 18th century countrymen to the Nazi's bloody siege of Leningrad during World War II. It's as if the Hermitage is a vessel, retaining the Russian soul until a better day, when that country once again knows where it belongs.

RUSSIAN ARK is a truly unique film - the "absolute auteur movie". Alexander Sokurov tells his story in one uninterrupted steadicam sequence, which was only recorded once. There is no editing, the film unfolds in pure real time. The filmmaker's vision - featuring more than 2,000 actors and extras - was realized entirely "in the camera".

RUSSIAN ARK was recorded straight to hard disk in the High Definition format, for digital and for 35 mm projection, featuring a live performance by the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra under Valery Gergiev.


Aleksandr Sokurov was born in Russia in 1951. He studied History and trained until 1979 as a director at the Moscow Film School VGIK. His graduation film The Lonely Voice of Man (1987) was neither officially accepted by the school, nor given the right to be shown – as was the case with all of his films until the democratic reforms in the mid to late 80s -, but did win a Bronze Leopard at Locarno. In 2000, he founded the studio Bereg for non-commercial feature and documentary films. Sokurov has made numerous prize-winning feature films and documentaries, including: Painful Indifference (1987), Days of Eclipse (1988), Elegy from Russia (documentary, 1992), Mother and Son (1997), Moloch (1998), Taurus (2001) Russian Ark (2002), and Father and Son (2003), among others.
Genre Art, History
Category Feature
Year of Production 2002
Director Aleksandr Sokurov
Screenplay Anatoli Nikiforov, Aleksandr Sokurov
Cinematography Tilman Buettner
Vlad Ivanov
Mikhail Glinka, Sergey Yevtuschenko, G.P. Telemann
Natalya Kochergina, Yelena Zhukova
Cast Prof. Michail Piotrovsky, Leonid Mozgovoi, Maria Kuznetsova, Sergey Dreiden
Producers Karsten Stöter, Jens Meurer, Andrey Deryabin
Production Companies Egoli Tossell Film/Berlin, Hermitage Bridge Studio/St. Petersburg, in co-production with Koppmedia/Halle, Fora-Film M/Moscow, ARTE, WDR
Length 96 min
Format 35 mm, color
Dubbed Versions Italian, German, Spanish
Original Version
 Russian
Subtitled Versions English, French
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Cannes 2002 (in Competition), Toronto 2002, Vienna 2002, Regus London 2002, Pusan 2002, Thessaloniki 2002, Karlovy Vary 2002, Telluride 2002, New York 2002, Chicago 2002 (in competition), Rotterdam 2003, Kerala 2017, Lecce 2019
Awards Visions Award Toronto 2002, 2 Russian Film Awards Nika for Best Production Design & Best Costumes
With backing from Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, BKM, Filmbuero NW, Filmfoerderung Sachsen-Anhalt, Kultusministerium der Russischen Foederation, Kulturstiftung des Bundes
German Distributor Delphi Filmverleih/Berlin

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