Lubov Balagova (Founder & President)

"The only way to break down the barriers of myths and stereotypes is to embrace them. The aim of this awards, which celebrates filmic diversity in a truly inclusive way, is to build a bridge between the world of independent professional Russian cinema and the British film-making community, and to share their talents with a wider audience in the Western world.

Cinema has the power to change opinions, to create an atmosphere of harmony and peace, and to touch people of all ethnicities in a human way; it reminds them that there is more to connect than to divide us – emotionally, spiritually and personally."

Lubov Balagova is an award-winning Russian Circassian poet, author, filmmaker and producer.

Lubov was born in Russia but is currently a citizen of the United Kingdom where she resides with her husband and two sons. She has been active in the creative and literary world for the past thirty years, starting her poetic journey in Russia and continuing to cover various social and cultural initiatives throughout Europe, the US and the Middle East in her literary works and lectures.

Lubov has written and published eleven poetry books and is best known for The Empress, a novel in verse exploring the life of the sixteenth century Circassia princess Maria Temrokovna, second wife of Ivan the Terrible.

She has produced several documentaries in Russia including the English-language Cherkess Journey, as well award-winning movies Cherkess (2010), Mountain Prisoner (2011) and A Facebook Romance (2012). More recently she also produced a seventeen-minute promo for her latest feature film The Scent of Infinity, based on her award-winning script. Lubov Balagova is one of the directors of London-based Sindika Productions, a film production company making award-winning international movies.

Lubov has shown her support for other film and music festivals around the world, and was invited to join the jury for the Angel Film Awards at the 2012 Monaco International Film Festival, as well as London’s international music competition Stars of Albion in 2014.

What some famous authors and critics have written about Lubov’s works:

“We see an outstanding poet in front of us. Lubov Balagova continues the classical tradition of her great teachers…”

I.Lyapin, poet, First Secretary of the Union of Russian Writers.

“Lubov Balagova has the same dignity and honor as Empress Maria. That precisely and definitely follows from her deep and very emotional novel-tragedy and I must say that Lubov Balagova laid a solid rock as Caucasian Mountain in the future, the description solid as stone, God willing, the Church will canonize the name of Empress Maria. The outstanding literary talent of Balagova is not the only capacity she has; Lubov is a truly brave and a fearless citizen of her country…”

G. Nemchenko, critic, Druzhba Narodov magazine

“Sometimes I think Lubov has a special cosmic mission… She might be a Genius Circassia poet, a very special one indeed…”

Fatima Budisheva, journalist, Gazeta of KCHR

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During a tough chapter in UK-Russian relations I was pleased to have been able to attend Luba's special evening... Luba , you are a brave and valiant woman to spearhead such a high-profile project in a hostile environment. But those of us who spent the 23rd with you had the privilege of breathing the same air as the legendary Stephen Frears, the American star Nick Nolte and the superb string ensemble (KANDOUR QUARTET).

Carol Gould,
Political Commentator at British Broadcasting Corporation

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Luba, this is a crucial time for artists to recover their voice, you are helping to restore the connection between all of us, film makers from all over the world. I applaud the philosophy that underpins what you are doing.

Roland Joffé,
the Oscar, BAFTA and Cannes film festival
winning film director of “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission”

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Congratulations on making history, Luba. Thanks to Anatoly Pakhomov, of course! Sochi is the ideal choice for the concept of creating an international film festival designed to restore the face of art to the world through cinema. (…) Russia has always presented to the world the best examples of literature, philosophy, cinema and, in general, culture! And now the new Sochi International Film Awards wrote a new chapter in history with the same concept.

Karl Bardosh,
famous professor of New York university,
director, producer, writer

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A structured and strict concept of a powerful film festival has been formed, and you managed to prove its feasibility. Congratulations on what you have achieved, Luba. You've got proof of concept under your belt now! I thank Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov for supporting the new important film festival.

Elliot Grove,
founder of the Raindance Film Festival
and British Independent Film Awards

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A smashing success! Thank you for bringing Moscow and Sochi delegations, for the unexpected Sochi-wood glamour, the feedback from staff members and external guests was unreservedly positive.

Larry Sherwin,
Deputy Director of Communications of
EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

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Admirable Lubov Balagova-Kandour.
President and Producer of the “IRIDA” First Sochi International Film Awards. Majestic woman and lady of the world. Her motto - nothing is impossible. A woman of words and deeds. Beautiful person and magnificent woman.

Nina Ruchkina
Fashion House owner, dress designer

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