The first Irida Sochi International Film Awards (SIFA) was a successful event supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Sochi City Administration and Senator Arsen Kanokov.
The names of the winners were announced on December 15th at the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort & Spa Conference Hall.
The Sochi International Film Festival screened films chosen by the Selection Committee headed by director and producer Mohy Quandour. There were a total of 12 competition films, from Russia, Georgia, UK, Japan and other countries. The SIFA programme also included out of competition and retrospective screenings.
More information about the festival screenings is available on SIFA’s site at:
SIFA Jury Co-Presidents:
- Elliot Grove – director, screenwriter, founder of Raindance Film Festival and British Independent Film Awards
- Vera Glagoleva – people’s artist of Russia, director, member of the European Film Academy
- Director, screenwriter, honoured artist of Georgia Irakli Kvirikadze
- Director, producer, professor Karl Bardosh (US)
- Director Neil McCartney (UK)
- Director, screenwriter, producer Lawrence Foldes (US)
- Theatre and film actress, laureate of the Russian Federation National Award Olga Budina
- Secretary of the Union of Cinematographers of Russia and the Russian Guild of film critics and experts Sergei Novozhilov
SIFA Opening Ceremony
The Sochi International Film Awards opening ceremony took place on December 11th in the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort & Spa Conference Hall. The Mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov with his spouse were the first to walk the red carpet. They were followed by SIFA Founder and President Lubov Balagova-Kandour, and then by SIFA partners, members of the jury, directors, actors, musicians and honorary guests.
Anatoly Pakhomov went on stage at the beginning of the official ceremony and spoke of the significance of the new film festival for Sochi residents and wished (I got rid of “the” here) SIFA organizers, attendees and guests success.
Lubov Balagova-Kandour expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Anatoly Pakhomov for the enormous support provided in preparing the festival. She also thanked the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the UK and the Deputy Chair of the Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs Arsen Kanokov. Irina Khrusch, Arsen Kanokov’s Secretariat Director, read a warm welcome message on his behalf.
Actress Liza Arzamasova and the British actor Jack Loy were the opening ceremony presenters. London musicians, the young and talented violin player Aleem Kandour (Royal College of Music) and a popular jazz singer Cliff Nash with his group, as well as Indian dancer Nishi Joshi-Bhatt performed at the ceremony concert. Russia people’s artist Sergei Shakurov, honoured artist of Russia singer Ninel Shatskaya, well-known artists Ekaterina Volkova, Anton and Victoria Makarsky also performed at the concert. The public also enjoyed (I got rid of “the” here) listening to Clear Voice – Chisty Golos group from Belarus.
The SIFA’s honorary guests included director Boris Grachevsky, writer Victor Yerofeyev, Lithuanian actor Andrius Paulavichus, who played in the competition film Summer of Frozen Fountains, the Japanese actor and director Junichi Kajioka, who played in the British film Taking Stock. Tatiana Dittrich, who represents the Russian Theatre in London, was another festival guest along with the British producer Elizabeth Dillon, actors Maxim Kolosov, Danila Shevchenko and Irina Medvedeva.
Competition and out-of-competition films were screened at several venues - at the Yubileiny Culture House, Sochi cinemas but mostly at the Star Cinema (the Russian Seasons Hotel). The screenings were free for city residents.
The Sochi festival was also attended and supported by actors Oleg Hill, Maria Dobrzhinskaya and British actor Jack Loy, who are all involved in Lubov Balagova-Kandour’s new film Scent of Infinity.
SIFA also included master-classes by jury members Irakli Kvirikadze, Lawrence Foldes, Sergei Novozhilov and Karl Bardosh. Vera Glagoleva presented her film Two Women as part of the out-of-competition programme.
SIFA finished on December 16th at the Sochi Cinema, which hosted a free master-class by director, producer and professor Karl Bardosh and screened his film Tagore's Natir Puja: The Court Dancer. Sochi residents also had the opportunity to see Boris Grachevsky film Between the Notes or Tantric Symphony and director Oleg Khamukov’s Antigone. Khamukov was Sokurov’s disciple.
SIFA Closing Ceremony
The closing of the First Sochi International Film Awards on December 15th was attended by the Vice Mayor of Sochi Irina Romanets. Lubov Balagova-Kandour thanked Irina for the invaluable assistance rendered throughout the SIFA project. She stressed the fact that the festival took place only thanks to Irina Romanets’ trust and continuous support.
The Closing Ceremony presenters were actor Vyacheslav Manucharov and the BBC journalist and television news presenter Kasia Madera. Honoured artist of the Russian federation, active member of the Russian Academy of Arts Muhadin Kishev came on stage to present his painting to Lubov Balagova-Kandour. The seascape became one of the festival’s symbols and had been part of the artist’s exhibition that opened at the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort on December 11th.
The closing ceremony culminated in the presentation of the awards to the winners.
- Best Cinematography – George Steel, cinematographer, Gozo (UK – Malta, 2015)
- Best Screenplay – Edward Bordukov, screenwriter, The Pitch (Russia, 2015)
- Best Actor – Kakhi Kavsadze and Dagun Omayev, main roles in Alexander Amirov’s Teli & Toli (Russia-Georgia, 2016)
- Best Actress – Chieko Matsubara, Whisper of Yuzu Leaves, director Koji Kamizono (Japan, 2016)
- Best Director – Vano Burduli, director, Summer of Frozen Fountains (Georgia-Russia, 2016)
- Special Jury Award – The Dyosegey God, director Sergei Potapov, (Yakutia, 2015)
- Festival Gran Prix – The Pitch, director Edward Bordukov (Russia, 2015).
The award was presented to the film producer Michael Degtyar and actor Kirill Degtyar.
- SIFA President’s award recipient – Maeve Murphy – director, Taking Stock (UK, 2015)
Press Prize was awarded to Anton Bilzho’s The Dream Fish (Russia – Estonia, 2016).
Special Prizes were awarded to the Whisper of Yuzu Leaves by director Koji Kamizono and several out-of-competition films:
- Lyricisms, director Nikolai Burlak (Russia, 2016)
- Brutus, director Constantine Pham (Russia-Ukraine-US-Belarus-Romania-Israel, 2016)
- Askarby Nagaplev’s documentary Circassian Woman (Russia, 2015)
- Jane Clements' documentary Rush (US, 2014)
Prizes for best film debut were presented to young actors, students of London’s elite Harrow School Kazbek Kandour and Gerald Barry.
Special prizes for global contribution to filmmaking were awarded posthumously to outstanding filmmakers who died in 2016: people’s artist of the USSR Vladimir Zeldin, British actor Alan Rickman and Polish director Andrzei Wajda.
The filmmaker awards ceremony was followed by celebratory concert. Honoured artist of Russia Anna Bolshova, opera singer Elena Mamgetova, singer Roman Vetrov as well as actress Victoria Lanskaya and Golos Project participant Naeel Gimadeyev sang for the festival attendees and guests. People’s artist of Russia Sergei Nikonenko read the poem Nagrada [Award] by Tvardovsky. British actor Jack Loy read Benedict’s monologue from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
The public greeted all singers and artists very warmly, with Cliff Nash’s jazz group and the Clear Voice [Chisty Golos] Belarussian group being especially popular, as well as Ivan Zamotayev, Dmitri Tikhonov and Ed Shulzhevsky, who performed the aria Kings of the World from the Romeo and Juliette musical.
“We managed to succeed in our main objective – we made a contribution to strengthening business and cultural ties between different peoples. We were able to create a special atmosphere of trust, friendship and cooperation and promote coproduction projects,” said Lubov Balagova-Kandour. “Members of The Pitch’s creative team who received the Gran Prix will be involved in the SIFA Echo project within the framework of the Russian Cinema Week in London and in the Raindance Film Festival in September of 2017.”
SIFA President said that preparations for the second international film festival in Sochi are going to start soon. The Organizing Committee will be working in Sochi and in Great Britain. Those wanting to be involved in the festival can submit their new projects as well as co-production plans.