Unclenching the Fists, the drama directed by Kira Kovalenko that won the grand prize this year in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar, has been selected to represent Russia in the Best International Feature Film category at the 94th Oscars. The news was announced Monday by the Russian Oscar Committee.
Produced by Ukranian-Russian super-producer Alexander Rodnyansky with Sergey Melkumov, the pic (titled Razzhimaya Kulaki in Russian) is set in a former mining town in the industrial section of North Ossetia and follows a young woman named Ada (Milana Aguzarova) who struggles to escape the stifling hold of the family she loves as much as she rejects.
Mubi has North American, UK and Ireland, Latin America and India rights to the the film, which will make its Los Angeles premiere next month at AFI Fest.
This year’s Un Certain Regard sidebar has spawned at least four submissions to the 2022 International Feature Oscar race, with Unclenching the Fists joining fellow UCR pics Great Freedom from Sebastian Meise (Austria), Vladimir Johannsson’s Lamb (Iceland) and Tatiana Huezo’s Prayers For the Stolen (Mexico).
Russia meanwhile has seen its last two Oscar International Feature submissions — 2020’s Dear Comrades and 2019’s Beanpole, the latter also produced by Melkumov — make the shortlist. The last Russian film to be nominated was Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless in 2017, and the last winner was 1994’s Burnt By the Sun.
Here’s a running list of this year’s International Feature nominees: