My Accidental Career as a Russian Screenwriter

“In this scene, set at a government dacha, they are joined by their American counterparts at the State Department for a daylong picnic that grows increasingly informal, involving drinks, flirtation, a guitar jam and (spoiler) contact between two spies. At times in my new job, I feel like a spy myself, and one with a shaky cover. I don’t have a good answer for how I got here.”

The Movie Set That Ate Itself

Inside the five-year (so far) production of the Ilya Khrzhanovsky film Dau:

Khrzhanovsky came up with the idea of the Institute not long after preproduction on Dau began in 2006. He wanted a space where he could elicit the needed emotions from his cast in controlled conditions, twenty-four hours a day. The set would be a panopticon. Microphones would hide in lighting fixtures (as they would in many a lamp in Stalin's USSR), allowing Khrzhanovsky to shoot with multiple film cameras from practically anywhere — through windows, skylights, and two-way mirrors. The Institute's ostensible goal was to re-create '50s and '60s Moscow, home to Dau's subject, Lev Landau. A Nobel Prize–winning physicist, Landau significantly advanced quantum mechanics with his theories of diamagnetism, superfluidity, and superconductivity. He also tapped epic amounts of ass.