Andrey Zvyagintsev

Andrei Zvyagintsev was a Russian director who was thrust into the international spotlight after his debut feature, "The Return" (2003), won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. A classically trained actor, Zvyagintsev spent most of the '80s and '90s dwindling as an extra in various low-budget Russian movies and TV shows. Then in 2000, Zvyagintsev was given the opportunity to direct various cop shows and daytime soap operas on Russia's REN TV. He quickly proved himself to be a skillful director, and after only a few years in the chair, was offered the opportunity to direct a full-length feature. That film, 2003's "The Return," premiered to universal praise at the Venice Film Festival, and quickly established Zvyagintsev as a hot young director to watch. His next film, 2007's "The Banishment," drew just as warm a reception after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or, and even further established Zvyagintsev as one of international cinema's most celebrated directors. Zvyagintsev returned to Cannes in 2014 with "Leviathan," which employed themes of loss and suffering taken from the Book of Job, albeit with a modern spin. Zvyagintsev won Best Screenplay at Cannes for co-writing "Leviathan," thus cementing his reputation as one of the most important Russian film directors of his generation.