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Int’l Critics Line: Russia’s Oscar Submission ‘Unclenching The Fists’

Int’l Critics Line: Russia’s Oscar Submission ‘Unclenching The Fists’

The old adage “write what you know” has rarely paid off with such bleak, persuasive power as it does in Unclenching The Fists, which won the Grand Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar this year, is Russia’s submission to the International Feature race at the Oscars and is screening at AFI Fest. Mubi has U.S. rights and is planning a theatrical release ahead of digital in 2022.

Kira Kovalenko’s confident debut feature is largely based on events of her own youth. Like her fictional heroine Ada (Milana Aguzarova), Kovalenko grew up in a dreary mining town in the Caucasus. She captures, with unsentimental precision, the way life spent with the same few people, year after year, can be both suffocating in its intensity and numbingly dull.

Ada’s home is in North Ossetia, a thinly populated but strategically important wedge of Russia on the border of Georgia and next to Chechnya.

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