Dau (film)

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Directed byIlya Khrzhanovsky
Release date
  • 25 January 2019 (2019-01-25)

DAU is a 2019 Russian film of the DAU project organised by Ilya Khrzhanovsky. The film deals with the life of the Nobel Prize-winning Soviet scientist Lev Landau. The premiere in Paris on 25 January 2019 was in the form of a dozen feature films screened inside an extensive around-the-clock immersive installation. The film is one of Russia's largest and most controversial cinematic projects.[1]

An eventual conventional cinematic release of a single feature film is also planned, as are documentaries and a television series.[2][3]


Teodor Currentzis, a Greek classical conductor, plays the title role of Dau while Radmila Shchegoleva, the only professional actor in the major cast, plays his wife. Alexei Blinov, technical development lead for the feature film, also acts in it as Prof. Blinov.

The cast also included: Gerard Depardieu, Anatoly Vasiliev, Dmitry Chernyakov, Olga Shkabarnya, Peter Sellars, Romeo Castellucci, Carsten Höller, Marina Abramović, David Gross, Shing-Tung Yau, Nikita Nekrasov, Carlo Rovelli, James Fallon, Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Rampling, and others.


Filming in Kharkiv

The preparation for the shooting for the film began in 2006, whereas the actual shooting started in 2008 and went on for three years. In 2017, The Daily Telegraph reported that the film is still being edited and the production company is quoted as saying,

Our project consists of over 700 hours of material all shot on 35mm out of which the company is making feature films, TV series and a slate of science and art documentaries, as well as a trans-media project

— Phenomen Films, [4]
The Institute set

The film was shot at various sites in Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, United Kingdom and Denmark.[5] Most of the film was shot on a specially constructed set called "The Institute" in Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine. The Institute was the largest film set in Europe, the area totalling 12,000 m2. The set was a dynamic creative reconstruction of a Soviet restricted-access Institute in 1938-1968, located in Moscow. The filming included performances by multiple personalities, including Russian neo-Nazi leader Maxim Martsinkevich.[6] Some actors lived in The Institute in character 24 hours a day.[7] The destruction of the set became an integral part of the story and was shot on 8 November 2011.


The world première of the film was intended to take place at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival but the film was not completed yet.[8]

In July 2018 the project release was announced and preregistration was opened on the web page www.DAU.xxx. The release was scheduled for October 2018 in Berlin (with similar happenings following in Paris and London) as a month-long, full time operating, immersive art installation, featuring a replica of the Berlin Wall.[9] The city ultimately did not approve the plans, as there was too little time for authorities to check for safety for an event of these proportions, with the production company having submitted the plans less than a month prior to the event.[10]

The project finally premiered in Paris on 25 January 2019 in the form of 12 separate feature films screened inside an installation evoking The Institute and spanning the Centre Pompidou and two municipal theaters, the Théâtre du Châtelet and the Théâtre de la Ville. Instead of tickets entry is by "visas" of 6 hours, 24 hours or an unlimited duration. In the latter two cases, the visit is personalized according to a psychometric questionnaire which the visitor is requested to fill on registration. Audiences walk into an intermediary space, halfway between ruins and a theater set that is both contemporary and Soviet. From dusk to dawn, the three sites are linked in the sky by the Red Triangle, a light sculpture inspired by the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century. Additional presentations are planned in London and Berlin.[11]

Tablet magazine critic Vladislav Davidzon wrote that with the massive immersive theater project "Khrzhanovsky has built a testament to a great film that will never be—and could never be. DAU is a massive success as a feat of will, but a massive failure of artistry and craftsmanship."[12]


  1. ^ "The Never-Ending Story". Caravan Magazine. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (24 January 2019). "Dau: a never-ending experiment in a Soviet laboratory". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute.
  3. ^ Rose, Steve (26 January 2019). "Inside Dau, the 'Stalinist Truman Show': 'I had absolute freedom – until the KGB grabbed me'". The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Apocalypse Dau: the most insane film shoot of all time, and why you may never get to see it". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  5. ^ "L'Atelier du Festival - Dau". Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  6. ^ "The 'DAU' of Stalin Opens in Paris". Tablet Magazine. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  7. ^ Idov, Michael (27 October 2011). "On the Movie Set of Director Ilya Khrzhanovsky's Dau". GQ.
  8. ^ "Dau almost done". Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Wird die Berliner Mauer bald rekonstruiert?". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). 20 August 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Kunstevent "DAU": In Berlin darf keine Mauer gebaut werden". Spiegel Online (in German). 20 September 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  11. ^ Barone, Joshua (28 January 2019). "'DAU' Has Finally Opened in Paris". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Davidzon, Vladislav (19 February 2019). "The 'DAU' of Stalin Opens in Paris". Tablet.

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