Since its debut at Cannes this year, CLOSENESS has been stirring up controversy and picking up awards. Director Kantemir Balagov’s feature debut takes place in 1998, in the North Caucasus region of Russia. The Kabardians, an ethnic minority group, live among their religious Jewish neighbors in a state of mutual distrust and disenfranchisement. When her brother and his fiancée are kidnapped and held for ransom, Ilana (star-in-the-making Darya Zhovner) is confirmed in her suspicions that her parents and the community consider her expendable. Her wisdom is disregarded by her parents when it’s most needed, and her obedience is demanded when it means a lifetime of unhappiness for her to comply. With this raw and intense family drama, Balagov makes his indelible mark on the arthouse scene. – Gillian Horvat
Kantemir Balagov was born in Nalchik, Russia. He studied at the Kabardino-Balkar State University under acclaimed Russian auteur Alexander Sokurov, who produced his feature debut CLOSENESS. He previously made the shorts STILL YOUNG (2013) and ANDRYUKHA (2014). CLOSENESS won the Un Certain Regard Critics Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
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