Principal shooting is set to begin next month on the latest feature from critically acclaimed Russian director Yury Bykov, whose sophomore film “The Major” played in Cannes’ Critics’ Week, Variety has learned.
“The Owner” is produced by Ilya Stewart, Pavel Buria, and Murad Osmann of Moscow-based Hype Film (“Leto,” “Sputnik,” “Persian Lessons”), in their first collaboration with Kinopoisk, Russia’s leading streaming platform. Olga Filipuk is producing for Kinopoisk, which is owned by search engine Yandex.
Also co-producing are Dan Wechsler and Jamal Zeinal Zade of Switzerland’s Bord Cadre Films and Andreas Roald of the U.K.’s Sovereign Films, who are both co-producers on Cannes Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund’s upcoming feature “Triangle of Sadness.” Mexico’s Pimienta Films headed by Nicolas Celis (“Roma”), and Jim Stark are on board as executive producers.
Handling world sales and boarding the film as co-producers are Carole Baraton, Yohann Comte, and Pierre Mazars of Paris-based Charades.
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“My film is an attempt to find the answer to an age-old question within Russian society: Why is it so brutally divided into lower and upper classes, is dialogue and some sort of compromise between classes even possible, and is growth attainable?” said Bykov. “Most importantly, can the ordinary man in Russia become independent of his Owner, and is there a price to pay for this freedom? Will he remain just a screw in the system, and must he conform in order to survive?”
Hype Film’s Ilya Stewart said, “Yury Bykov is one of the leading filmmakers of his generation. He depicts a painfully honest portrayal of our reality, and the inner struggle that lies beyond the surface. We are thrilled to be bringing his new film to an international audience.”
The multi-faceted, multi-hyphenate Bykov wrote, directed and scored his first feature, “To Live” (2010), then took on acting and editing duties in his crime drama “The Major,” which Variety said “should substantially build Bykov’s reputation on the international circuit” after its Cannes premiere.
His next feature, “The Fool” (2014), a dark tale about a plumber in a provincial Russian town fighting to have an apartment building evacuated before it collapses, took home multiple prizes in Locarno. His last film, “The Factory” (2018), about desperate workers who decide to take action against the owner of a factory slated to close down, premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema section in Toronto.
Charades have previously collaborated with Hype Film on Kirill Serebrennikov’s 2018 Cannes player “Leto” and his upcoming “Petrov’s Flu,” as well as Mona Fastvold’s Venice title “The World To Come,” starring Vanessa Kirby, Katherine Waterston and Casey Affleck.