Facets Cinémathèque

Archives +

April 28–May 4, 2017

Chicago Theatrical

The Student

Buy tickets
Film still: The Student Film still: The Student Film still: The Student


François Chalais Award
Un Certain Regard Award
Cannes Film Fest
Golden Hugo
Chicago Intl
Film Fest
"A universally relevant examination of religious zealotry and, at the same time, a damning, satirical look at modern Russia"
  —Hollywood Reporter
4 stars "A sly, witty satire"
  —TimeOut London
4 stars
  —The Guardian
"[Filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov's] assured handling of the ambitious material inspires an intriguing film... commanding and fascinating"
  —Screen International
"Splendid... a stormy, swoon-inducingly shot bout of Russian moral wrestling that hits as hard and as heavily as a nastoyka hangover"
  —Chicago Tribune
3 stars½ "Fascinating, provocative... the film may be the strongest piece of Russian cinema to reach the U.S. since Leviathan"
Recommended "Bold and compelling"
  —NewCity Chicago

Venya is a high school student who recently has become a fervent Christian, reciting Bible passages by heart for seemingly every occasion. After his mother receives a call from school reporting her son's refusal to participate in mixed swimming lessons, she first suspects her teenager of being shy and derides his claim that it is "against his religion." However, he is in the grip of a profound mystical crisis, convinced that the world has been lost to evil, and begins to challenge the morals and beliefs of the adults around him. When he is finally exempted by the school's devout principal, Venya grows confident that his strict and rigorous study of the Bible gives him the ability to manipulate all forms of authority. Neither his mother, an Orthodox priest, nor the principal can discipline his increasingly vehement evangelism and his future plans include attempting miracles, smiting sinners, along with a desire to punish the entire community.

At a time when arguments over the teaching of religion in public schools are prominent in the media, this escalating classroom drama, based on the play Martyr by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg, serves as a frightening cautionary tale. Filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov (Betrayal) has been very critical about the omnipotence of religion in his country, calling it "the second official ideology", believing that "Art asks questions. Religion imposes answers. The film shows that it can be a form of manipulation, used by a young man to trick those around him."

Directed by Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia, 2016, 118 mins. In Russian with English subtitles.


  • Fri., April 28 at 7 & 9:15 pm
  • Sat., April 29 at 2:30, 4:45, 7 & 9:15 pm
  • Sun., April 30 at 1, 3:15 & 5:30 pm
  • Tues.–Thurs., May 2–4 at 7 & 9:15 pm
Buy tickets


$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation