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The Return

Russian film poster
Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Produced by Yelena Kovalyova
Dmitry Lesnevsky
Written by Vladimir Moiseyenko
Aleksandr Novototsky
Starring Vladimir Garin
Ivan Dobronravov
Konstantin Lavronenko
Natalia Vdovina
Music by Andrei Dergatchev
Distributed by Kino International (US)
Release date(s) 25 June 2003 (Russia)
6 February 2004 (U.S.)
25 June 2004 (U.K.)
1 July 2004 (Australia)
Running time 105 min
Country Russia
Language Russian

The Return (Russian: Возвращение, Vozvrashcheniye) is a 2003 Russian film released internationally in 2004. It tells the story of two Russian boys whose father suddenly returns home after a 12-year absence. He takes the boys on a holiday to a remote island on a lake that turns into a test of manhood of almost mythic proportions. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.



In contemporary Russia, young brothers Ivan (the younger one) and Andrey have grown a deep attachment to each other to make up for their fatherless childhood. Both their mother and grandmother live with them. After running home after a fight with each other, the boys are shocked to discover their father has returned after a 12-year absence. With their mother's uneasy blessing, Ivan and Andrey set out on what they believe will be a fishing vacation with him.

At first, the boys are ecstatic to be reunited with the father they've only known from a faded photograph, but they soon strain under the weight of their dad's awkward and increasingly brutal efforts to make up for a missing decade of parental supervision. Ivan and Andrey find themselves alternately tested, scolded, scrutinized, and ignored by the man through a changing series of encounters and hardships. Andrey seems to look up to his father while Ivan remains skeptical.

As truck stops and cafés give way to rain-swept, primevally beautiful wilderness coastline, Ivan's doubts give way to open defiance. Andrey's powerful need to bond with a father he's never known begins, in turn, to distance him from Ivan. Ivan and his father's test of wills escalate into bitter hostility and sudden violence after the trio arrives at their mysterious island destination.



The Return was filmed on and around Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland. The budget of the film remains a secret, though in an interview the director and the producer hinted that it was well below $500,000. The director also mentioned that the producers made their money back even before it was screened at Venice Film Festival.


  • Director Andrey Zvyagintsev's father disappeared from his life when he was 6.
  • Actor Vladimir Garin, who played Andrey, drowned shortly after the end of shooting in a lake near the one where several of the picture's scenes were filmed.

Awards and nominations

Venice Film Festival
European Film Awards
  • Winner, European Discovery of the Year (Fassbinder Award)
Palm Springs International Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Foreign Film
Golden Globe Award
  • Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film Russia
International Cinephile Society
  • Winner, Best Foreign Language Film

External links



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