About DAU

DAU. A project that is now available to watch.

Today marks the launch of Ilya Khrzhanovskiy's online platform DAU.com. Viewers can now officially watch the films DAU. Natasha (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel) and DAU. Degeneration (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov).

These films were shown at the Berlin International Film Festival this year. DAU. Natasha was presented in the main competition of the 70th Berlinale. Jürgen Jürges, the director of photography was awarded the Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution. DAU. Degeneration was shown as part of the Berlinale Special Program.

Khrzhanovskiy had hoped that the other DAU films could participate in international film festivals in this and coming years, but due to festivals cancelling and rescheduling, his plans changed: now all of the DAU project films will be available online.

"The first cinematic project about isolation, filmed in isolation, for people in isolation," is how Khrzhanovskiy describes the project.

Every week, new films will appear on the project's website. On Friday 24th April comes the premiere of the next film — DAU. Nora Mother (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel). Once just a girl from the provinces, Nora is now married to a successful scientist and lives together with her family within the confines of a secret and privileged Moscow institute. Nora is visited by her mother for the first time since her wedding. Her mother closely observes the atmosphere within the couple's home, trying to work out whether her daughter is happy. During the course of their intimate conversations the complexity of their contradictory relationship is revealed.

For the director, this project has been more than 10 years in the making. The DAU Universe emerged from 700 hours of footage. The cost of watching one film is $3 or 220 roubles. There is an age restriction: the films are only available for people aged 18 and over.

Project Overview

Initially planned as a feature film, DAU began shooting in April 2007 and soon turned into a unique, epic, multidisciplinary, and ever-changing project created by the Russian director Ilya Khrzhanovskiy along with Sergei Adonyev. The project combines film, science, performance, spirituality, social and artistic experimentation, literature and architecture. The part of Dau himself was played by the eminent musician Teodor Currentzis.

In September 2009, an “Institute for Research into Physics and Technology” was built within a derelict swimming pool in Kharkiv (Ukraine). The vast and functioning experimental research facility was inspired by actual Soviet institutes and became the largest film set ever constructed in Europe. Scientists could live and work in the Institute and it was also populated by hundreds of carefully selected willing participants – artists, waiters, secret police, ordinary families – all cut off from time and space.

Several hundred people left their everyday lives to go back in time to the Soviet Union, taking up residence at the Institute in a spatially and temporally parallel universe. It was a meticulous historical simulation where everything, from uniforms to kitchen appliances, food, money, and vocabulary, matched the objects and habits of the time. The Institute had its own newspaper (with daily bulletins informing the participants of historical events from the time) and the currency used was the rouble.


Real-life scientists, who were able to continue with their research in the Institute, included: physicist Andrei Losev; mathematicians Dmitri Kaledin and Shing-Tung Yau; string theorist Nikita Nekrasov; Nobel-Prize winning physicist David Gross; neuroscientist James Fallon; and biochemist Luc Bigé. “One group was researching string theory and another researching quantum gravity. These groups hated each other. One stated there were 12 dimensions, the other claimed there were 24. The string theory group believed there couldn’t be 24 dimensions. The quantum gravity group believed that the other scientists were narrow-minded,” explained Khrzhanovskiy.

There was a cross-over between art and science, with new media artist Alexey Blinov, who was involved with the Institute's technical design and who also built structures based on Luc Bigé’s designs. Other artists who visited the Institute included: Carsten Höller, who holds a doctorate in sciences and performed an experiment in the Institute; performance artists Andrew Ondrejcak and Marina Abramovic; theater directors Romeo Castellucci and Peter Sellars; and photographer Boris Mikhailov.

Religion was represented in the Institute by a series of visiting religious luminaries, including: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz; Russian-Orthodox hegumen Daniil; Peruvian vegetalist Guilliarmo Arévalo; and the shaman Viacheskav Cheltuev.


Films and series composed from the footage explore human behaviour in personal, social and professional spheres under a totalitarian regime, and examine the freedom of agency amid a complete lack of freedom. They address important and predominantly taboo matters of human existence.

DAU. Dau (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy)

DAU. Brave people (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Aleksei Sliusarchuk)

DAU. Nora Mother (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Empire (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Anatoliy Vasiliev)

DAU. Katya Tanya (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Conformists (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Aleksei Sliusarchuk)

DAU. Three days (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Sasha Valera (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Nikita Tanya (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. String theory (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Aleksei Sliusarchuk)

DAU. New man (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov)

DAU. Nora Son (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Natasha (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Degeneration (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov)

DAU. Regeneration (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov)


DAU. Nora (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Menu (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Jekaterina Oertel)

DAU. Degeneration (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Ilya Permyakov)

DAU. Science (dir. Ilya Khrzhanovskiy, Dmitry Kaledin)

DAU. Concerts

DAU. Experiments

The interactive online platform DAU. Digital consists of the 700 hours of footage: http://dau.com/


In January 2019, in Paris, the DAU project was presented at the Théâtre de la Ville and the Théâtre du Châtelet. Visitors were only permitted entry after they had requested and obtained a Visa, and had left their mobiles, and their connection to the outside world at the cloakroom. The setting inside was both contemporary and Soviet, and experiences ranged from the psychological and intellectual to the physiological and spiritual. At the Centre Pompidou, a Soviet apartment was recreated, where scientists from the Institute would live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of the installation.


In February 2020 two DAU films were included in the program of the Berlin film festival: DAU. Natasha (competition) and DAU. Degeneration (special). The film DAU. Natasha and Jurgen Jurges the director of photography were awarded the Silver Bear for "outstanding artistic contribution".
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