A film unanimously described as shocking and controversial has also proved to be successful and winning.
Twilight Portrait, a Russian drama about the complex psychological and sexual relations between a rape victim and her abuser, has scooped an award at an international film festival in Greece.
The movie from the New York-based Russian-born director, Angelina Nikonova, took top honors at the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival, bagging the coveted Golden Alexander trophy which comes with a 20,000-euro prize, as well as an award from the Critics’ Association.
Twilight Portrait revolves around the controversial and highly ambiguous relations between a married, well-to-do young female social worker and a policeman who was probably – although the story never makes it 100 per cent clear – among a group of officers who raped her.
The lead role is played by Ivan Dykhovichny’s widow – the charismatic young actress Olga Dykhovichnaya – who also co-wrote the script. The disturbing Russian story is narrated in a brutal, hardcore style more readily identified with male, than female, writers.
She was quoted as saying that Twilight Portrait is not so much about the so-called Stockholm Syndrome – when a victim and her abuser bond with each other and fall in love – but about the conflict between two polarized worlds: that of Russia’s incipient bourgeoisie, and life in the rest of the country.
“My heroine has a pretty good job, a pretty good husband, but that doesn’t do it for her. It’s this destruction, damage, violence which all of a sudden make her alive, and she experiences some feeling for the first time ever,” Dykhovichnaya explained.
The film had its world premiere earlier this year on the Lido, at the world's oldest film festival in Venice where it was lauded by critics and film buffs.