26 October, 2021
Thriller set in Leningrad during Stalin’s Great Purge will screen in London as it opens Russian Film Week, which runs Nov 28 - Dec 5.

Russian Film Week returns in person with a great line up after going virtual last year

The Russian Film Week returns to cinemas in London and across the UK on 28 November after being forced to go virtual last year because of the pandemic. The festival will open with the UK red carpet premier of Captain Volkonogov Escaped by Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov. held at the iconic Odeon Luxe Leicester Square. The film received high praise by critics during its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, where it was the only Russian film in the festival's main programme.

 “We are honoured that the UK premiere of our film will take place at the legendary Odeon Luxe, a living history of world cinema,” said N. Merkulova, the movie’s director.  

This allegorical drama is set in 1930s Leningrad, where Stalin’s purges are in full swing and everyone is a suspect. It tells a story of an obedient law enforcer on the run: in his attempt to escape purges Volkonogov tries to find a way to repent, but his time is running out. 

Director Natasha Merkulova said, “Throughout history, every day, somewhere in the world, some people have tortured others. In addition, it is still happening in the twenty first century. It is a universal problem, and each of us should personally reflect on it.”  

Filip Perkon, the General Producer of the Russian Film Week, explained the opening movie choice, “Captain Volkonogov Escaped, deemed by our selection committee to be one of the best films we will ever screen, is continuing our tradition of showing different genres at the opening night. This year it is a mystical thriller. After two unorthodox years in a pandemic, our opening night movie questions the whole essence of normality and asks where the world will be going next. The film is timely, showing us in a genius but offbeat way, how it could turn out, and that each of us must take personal responsibility for the world and that siding with good or bad is a personal choice.”


This gripping thriller is one of 42 movies on the festival line up (23 feature films and 19 short films) that will screen in London, Cambridge and Edinburgh. Audiences will have access to both  in-person and digital programming: for the duration of the RFW 2021, short films will be available to watch via the RFW online platform (soon on www.russianfilmweek.org).  All movies of the RFW2021 will be shown in their original language with English subtitles.

In 2021, the festival received 404 applications for participation.  The final selection represents the genre diversity of the Russian film industry, spanning drama, comedy, historical films, thrillers, action movies, melodramas and documentaries. 

RFW2021 Full Programme:

  • "Petrovs’ Flu", dir. К. Serebrennikov (2021)
  • "Captain Volkonogov Escaped", dir. Chupov, N. Merkulova (2021)
  • "Sputnik", dir. Е. Abramenko (2020) Debut
  • "The Oath", dir. Р. Nesterenko (2020)
  • "Portrait of a Stranger, dir. С. Osipyan (2020)
  • "Palmyra", dir. I. Bolotnikov (2020)
  • "A dog named Palma", dir. А. Domogarov Jr. (2020)
  • "The Dorn", dir. Р. Vasyanov (2020) Debut 
  • "Jetlag", dir. М. Idov (2021)
  • "The Little Warrior", dir. I. Yermolov (2021) Debut
  • "Russian Spleen", dir. А. Kamynin (2019)
  • "The Nose, or a Conspiracy of Mavericks", dir. А. Khrzhanovsky (2020)
  • "Sin (IL Peccato)", dir. А. Konchalovsky (2019)
  • "The North Wind, dir. Р. Litvinova (2020)
  • "The Three", dir. А. Melikyan (2020)
  • "Tygyn Dakhan", dir. Н. Arzhakov (2020)
  • "Pops", dir. D, Efimovich (2020)
  • "V2: Escape from Hell (Devyataev)", dir. Т. Bekmambetov (2021)
  • "Next Station: Russia", dir. И. Sosnin (2020) Debut
  • "Elsa’s Land”, dir. Ю. Kolesnik (2020) Debut
  • "Doctor Lisa", dir. О. Karas (2020)
  • "Far Eastern Golgotha", dir. Ю. Sergina (2021) (doc)
  • "Sockeye. Red Fish", dir. В. Grishin, D. Shpilenok (doc)



Far Eastern Golgothaby Julia Sergina depicts a critical moment in the life of a taxi driver from an endangered city in the Far East of Russia, as he starts a YouTube channel to document evidence of disenfranchisement and total poverty and he soon gathers a team of supporters.

Petrov’s Flu by Kirill Serebrennikov, the celebrated Russian stage and screen director. It is a hallucinatory romp through post-Soviet Russia, and a visually arresting experience: rough, funny, violent and psychedelic, yet tender and poetic. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Sin / IL Peccato by Andrei Konchalovsky is a drama starring Alberto Testone as Michelangelo. Although widely considered a genius by his contemporaries, he is reduced to poverty and depleted by his struggle to finish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. When his commissioner Pope Julius II dies, Michelangelo becomes obsessed with sourcing the finest marble to complete his tomb. The artist’s loyalty is tested when Leo X, of the rival Medici family, ascends to the papacy and charges him with a lucrative new commission – the façade of the San Lorenzo basilica. Written and directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, IL PECCATO (SIN) is a gripping reflection on the agony and ecstasy of individual greatness, and the profound humanity behind the legend of the Renaissance. In Italian with English subtitles.

Doctor Liza by Oksana Karas takes viewers through a day in the life of Doctor Elizaveta Glinka, one of Russia's most beloved palliative care specialists. In December 2016, Dr Glinka died when her plane crashed over the Black Sea.

The North Wind by Renata Litvinova is a fantasy drama set in a magical time when a great matriarchy reigned: women of an influential clan ruled the territory of the Northern Fields and lived in anticipation of love.

Sockeye Salmon. Red fishis an eco-documentary by Dmitriy Shpilenok and Vladislav Grishin about species of wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean.  Only once does this species return to fresh waters of the Kamchatka peninsula - to spawn, start the circle of life, and die. Year after year, this inexhaustible resource has been naturally restored but fish populations are in danger because of poaching and unsustainable practices. We may find ourselves facing the unimaginable humans exhausting the inexhaustible!




The opening night and the premiere will be a star-studded red carpet event held at the iconic Odeon Luxe Leicester square, home to hundreds of royal, global and European premieres since 1937.

The Russian Film Week culminates with the Golden Unicorn Awards ceremony held at the Haymarket Theatre on 5 December 2021. It will celebrate achievements of Russian cinematography and international filmmakers creating Russian-themed films. The awards have two separate juries: an international and a Russian jury, providing a unique opportunity to recognise both Russian and foreign films through a cross-cultural lens. 

The Casting Bridge International Forum, held annually as part of Russian Film Week in the UK, will take place on 1st and 2nd December in London.


Filip Perkon, the General Producer of the RFW, said, ”We are very excited to be back to organising Russian Film Week offline in cinemas. The magic of in-person events, where people share an experience, hold discussions, network and bond together, cannot be replicated online. After such a challenging time for the entertainment industry and for our cinema loving fans, coming back offline is truly magical. This season we had a record number of submissions and our viewers will be offered some of the best films we have ever shown”.

Vadim Lobov, President of the Synergy Corporation, one of the partners of Russian Film Week, said, “It’s a significant event for us — the opportunity to show Russian films in cinemas outside Russia. Art holds a mirror to the changes in our lives and allowing us to re-evaluate and creatively re-imagine everyday events. This is all the more important now, at this time of pandemics and economic instability. We hope that our film festival remains a source of intellectual and creative inspiration for all attendees.” 


  • Filip Perkon (Perkon Productions Ltd.) founded Russian Film Week and The Golden Unicorn Awards in 2016.
  • Co-organizers of the Russian Film Week and the Golden Unicorn Awards 2021 - Synergy Corporation.
  • Sponsors– Gazprom Marketing & Trading and Blavatnik Family Foundation. 
  • Opening and Online Partner - Kaspersky.



  • For media requests, interviews and press accreditation, please, contact Elena Leo at leo@russianfilmweek.org 
  • Further screenings and events information will be regularly updated at  http://www.russianfilmweek.org/
  • Posters, images and movies info : link here
  • RFW YouTube highlights 
  • RFW Instagram handle 

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