6 february, 1964
Andrei Zvyagintsev - Russian actor and film-maker noted for his exceptionally successful debut in directing with award-winning drama The Return (2003). Born on February, 6, 1964 in a northern city of Novisibirsk, he graduated from the Novosibirsk Actors School in 1984 and started to play on stage in provincial theatres. In the early 1990s he came to Moscow - the centre of film industry - with ambition to star in movies. Moscow was tough for a newcomer. As Znyagintsev put it later in one of his interviews: "I was hungry, in need of work, I auditioned for everything. I even did not have money to buy a bus ticket." From 1992 to 2000 he appeared as "extra" on numerous TV series and feature films but with no positive results. Suddenly his friend offered him a job as director at REN TV, an independent production company that makes cop shows and day-time soaps. When he got his chance to direct, Zvyagintsev did his best, he directed several episodes for popular TV series and impressing producers with his skills, he got the offer to direct a feature length. The Return - a low budget, artful family drama- turned out to be a great success for Zvyagintsev and an international triumph for Russian cinema. The film won the Venice Festival's Golden Lion in 2003-the first Russian film to be awarded such an honor for a number of years.
When Zvyagintsev returned in Moscow from Venice, he was given a hero's welcome. He unexpectedly found himself in the centre of a media storm and after a series of interviews and appearances on TV he became a recluse. It is rumored that he is preparing (of has already started) the shooting of his second film every detail of which is a top secret. Although no official information is available to verify or dispel these rumors, the actor-turned-director is likely to face a dilemma whether to remain a single masterpiece creator in the film history or to make his next film, which can maintain his reputation of a genius. There is a risk, however, should his second film be a failure, the critics will regard the success of The Return as a fluke.