Venice Competition Title ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’ Acquired by Memento International (EXCLUSIVE)

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Memento International has acquired the international sales rights to “Captain Volkonogov Escaped,” from Russian writing and directing duo Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov, which will world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival, Variety can reveal.

The film tells the story of the titular Captain Volkonogov, a well-respected and obedient law enforcer in the former Soviet Union, who witnesses his colleagues being suspiciously questioned. Sensing that his turn will soon come, he plans to escape, only to find his former colleagues hot on his tail. When the vulnerable and hopeless Volkonogov gets a message from hell that he’ll be sentenced to eternal torments, he must find a way to repent. But time is running out and the manhunt is closing in on him.

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“Captain Volkonogov Escaped” features an all-star cast that includes Yuriy Borisov, who appeared in the Cannes competition titles “Compartment No. 6” and “Petrov’s Flu,” Timofey Tribuntsev (“Petrov’s Flu”), and Natalya Kudryashova, who won the best actress award in Venice’s Horizons section in 2018 for Merkulova and Chupov’s last film, “The Man Who Surprised Everyone.”

“‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’ is a fast-paced manhunt, directed with a striking and bold mise-en-scène,” said Memento’s head of sales Mathieu Delaunay. “We were all so impressed by Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov’s profoundly human script and gut-punch cinematic proposition.”

Merkulova described Memento as the writer-director duo’s “dream agent,” saying: “The company has worked with some of our favorite films, including Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation,’ the Safdie brothers’ ‘Good Time,’ Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ Malgorzata Szumowska’s ‘Face,’ and Aleksey Fedorchenko’s ‘Silent Souls.’” Chupov added: “With Memento International our title is in the best possible hands to travel the world.”

“Captain Volkonogov Escaped” is a co-production between Place of Power and Look Film (Russia), Homeless Bob Production (Estonia) and Kinovista (France), with support from the Russian Ministry of Culture, Kinoprime, Eurimages, the Estonian Film Institute, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and France’s Aide aux Cinemas du Monde.

“We are happy to partner up with Memento International on world representation of ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped,’ because this is the team with the top expertise in high-profile, director-driven independent films with a very selective approach and cherry-picked slate of award-winning filmmakers’ titles,” said Valeriy Fedorovich, co-founder of the new boutique production outfit Place of Power.

“Knowing just how carefully they select every film their young and extremely ambitious team takes on, and how dedicatedly they promote them, we feel our movie is in good hands,” added Place of Power co-founder Evgeniy Nikishov.

Merkulova and Chupov are currently co-directing “Anna K,” a contemporary retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s iconic novel “Anna Karenina,” which is Netflix’s first Russian original drama series. The show is being produced by Fedorovich and Nikishov’s 1-2-3 Production.

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