DAU: Genesis of a Monumental Project

The DAU project in a few figures:
- Started 13 years ago
- 40 months of shooting
- 700 hours of rushes on 35 mm film

DAU.NATASHA is a unique and highly anticipated film that will be presented at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in our section "Les nouveaux alchimistes". It is part of DAU, a fascinating and controversial multidisciplinary project by Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Sergei Adoniev that aims to meticulously recreate the experience of the Soviet totalitarian regime.

The DAU Project was initially conceived as a biography of the physicist Lev Davidovitch Landau, but turned into an ultra-detailed recreation of the Soviet totalitarian experiment in a scientific research institute from 1938 to 1968. The project combines several disciplines, which makes it all the more captivating: cinema joins science, performance, spirituality, literature, architecture, and even anthropology, all in a most singular social and artistic experiment.

DAU started shooting more than 13 years ago, in April 2007. In all, more than 400 non-professional actors have been hired to play in it. These actors have a job, a salary and are provided with some biographical information. Several episodes in the form of films are centered around different characters and some characters are recurring. The actors live on the set: they are cut off from the outside world and have no access to the Internet. In total, 700 hours of rushes were shot (in 35 mm) during 180 days of shooting spread over 40 months. It's impossible not to draw a parallel with reality TV shows that give their participants the same kind of experience...

Twelve of the project's films were shown in an immersive and continuous exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in January 2019. DAU.NATASHA was selected for the Golden Bear for the Official Competition at the 70th Berlinale where it won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for his cinematographer Jürgen Jürges (who worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders). The film has a dark and muffled atmosphere that sticks beautifully to its themes.

In DAU.NATASHA, Natasha and her younger assistant Olga work in the staff canteen of a Soviet-era research institute. They spend their evenings drinking and flirting with the institute’s scientists and foreign guests. Then one day, the secret service steps in and upends Natasha’s routine for good.

The film makes us understand and experience through its characters the way a totalitarian regime works. We understand their solitude and their refuge in debauchery. It is fascinating to see the different interpersonal relationships between these characters that are both fiction and reality. DAU.NATASHA presents a very interesting reflection on the effects of the physical and psychological violence of a totalitarian regime. A very engaging social and artistic experiment that will lead you to question the many effects that a political regime can have on private life.

The lineup of "Les nouveaux alchimistes" will be unveiled on September 3rd and the full Festival lineup will be unveiled on September 29.

See the list of films announced for our 49th edition

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