Kantemir Balagov • Russia • 2017 • A daring thriller set in Russia’s multi-ethnic Caucasus region.
1998, Nalchik. Ilana is 24-years old, a tomboy who works at her father’s garage to help make ends meet. Her parents are overjoyed by the engagement of her younger brother David to the daughter of another Jewish family, even if Ilana remains ambivalent. Ilana hides her family’s faith from her boyfriend Zalim, of the local Kabardian tribe, of whom her mother deeply disapproves. The family’s fragile peace is shattered the night of David’s engagement party, when he and his fiancée are kidnapped and held hostage for a nearly insurmountable sum.
Shot in Academy ratio format and with a powerful debut performance by Darya Zhovner, Tesnota (Closeness) is an exuberant, daring thriller set in Russia’s multi-ethnic Caucasus region. Kantemir Balagov’s first film premiered at New Directors/New Films; Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, where it won Best Actress; Thessaloniki, where it won the Human Values Award; and Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize - Un Certain Regard.