DAU. Degeneratsia

DAU. Degeneration
The institute that this film is about existed twice. Once as the top-secret Institute for Physical Problems as part of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which was in operation from 1938 to 1968, and a second time as the largest film set in Europe, which was destroyed at the end of the project. The DAU Institute in Kharkiv was an experiment designed by director Ilya Khrzhanovskiy in which leading mathematicians, artists, philosophers and mystics lived and worked between 2009 and 2011. Among other things, they explored the foundations and limits of intellectual understanding and human action, working towards the creation of a “new human being” and beyond, to the bloody end. DAU. Degeneratsia shows the institute in its cruel final phase. On his last legs, the protagonist DAU, a theoretical physicist like his role model Lev Landau, is obliged to look on as upheavals bring forth a steady stream of new institute directors. Vodka and sperm are flowing freely among both service and research staff. Meanwhile, the secret police is assisting in the rise of a nationalistic, reactionary squad of sporty young men who are ready to clean up the “pigsty”.
by Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov
with Prof. Dmitry Kaledin, Vladimir Azhippo, Olga Shkabarnya, Prof. Alexei Blinov, Prof. Nikita Nekrasov, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Dr. Zoya Popova, Alexey Trifonov, Kristina Voloschina, Viktoria Skitskaya, Maksim Martsinkevitsch
Germany / Ukraine / United Kingdom / Russian Federation 2020 Russian, English 355’ Colour World premiere


  • Prof. Dmitry Kaledin (Head of the Theoretical Department)
  • Vladimir Azhippo (Secret Services Curator)
  • Olga Shkabarnya (Kaledin's wife)
  • Prof. Alexei Blinov (Head of the Experimental Department)
  • Prof. Nikita Nekrasov (Theoretical physicist)
  • Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (as himself)
  • Dr. Zoya Popova (Scientific secretary of the Institute)
  • Alexey Trifonov (Director of the Institute)
  • Kristina Voloschina (Director's Secretary)
  • Viktoria Skitskaya (Waitress of the Institute cafe)
  • Maksim Martsinkevitsch (Head of the Experimental Group)


Written and Directed by Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov
Cinematography Jürgen Jürges
Montage Ling Lee, Arttu Salmi, Marianne Kuopanportti Fennel
Sound Design Stefan Smith, Rob Walker, Alex Joseph
Sound Maksim Demydenko
Production Design Denis Shibanov
Costumes Lyubov Mingasitinova, Olga Bekritskaya, Elena Bekritskaya, Irina Tsvetkova
Make-Up Jekaterina Oertel
Casting Vera Levchenko, Inna Schorr, Asya Smekalova
Assistant Directors Vera Levchenko, Inna Schorr
Producer Sergey Adonyev
Co-Producers Svetlana Dragayeva, Kristina Voloschina, Alexandra Timofeeva, Susanne Marian
Co-Production Phenomen Ukraine Kiew
Phenomen UK London
Phenomen Films Moskau

Produced by

Phenomen Berlin Filmproduktion

Ilya Khrzhanovskiy

Born in Moscow, USSR in 1975, the director and producer graduated from the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1998. His debut film, 4, won a Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. He began work on DAU, a multi-disciplinary project at the intersection of cinema, art and anthropology, in 2006.


2005 4 2020 DAU. Degeneratsia (DAU. Degeneration)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020

Ilya Permyakov

The Russian director completed a doctorate in philosophy in 2003. Between 2004 and 2008, he was curator of Videologia, an international festival of audio-visual arts. His video art has been presented in museums and galleries including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern in London. As part of the DAU project, he has so far directed three films and a series and has led a number of academic conferences.


2008 Gazing; Video art piece 2019 DAU; three films, one series 2020 DAU. Degeneratsia

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020