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About the Fourth Sochi International Film Festival & Awards

November 16 – 21, 2019


Sochi International Film Festival & Awards - is proud to announce its fourth world class event celebrating Russian, British and International film making for cinema that rises above the international political agenda.

The Awards has already received immense international media attention. The event will be attended by seasoned industry professionals and distinguished guests from around the globe.


Lubov Balagova - Sochi International Film Awards - Founder and President
Anatoly Pakhomov / Анатолий Николаевич Пахомов

Dear friends, participants and guests of the 2018 Sochi International Film Festival and Awards, (SIFFA’18)

I welcome you all on behalf of Sochi residents of the Olympic City of national consensus and hospitality. The best international cultural projects have found their home in Sochi. SIFFA’18 is no exception. In fact, the SIFFA project is gaining popularity in the country and around the globe, and is already the hallmark of the winter cultural season. It is a tradition to honour the great masters of cinema, and to support young directors who are starting on their cinematic journey. We also welcome the initiative of the organisers who pay special attention to cinema masters from the regions, especially those from the south of Russia, our countrymen. I wish the large international team of participants, guests and spectators, successful film discussion and debates, new creative meetings and unforgettable Black Sea magical evenings! Dear guests, welcome to Sochi!

Mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov

Pakhomov signature





As this new year has now been ushered in by both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, the Gregorian and the Julian calendar traditions, I ask you to accept my offerings and best wishes to everyone who is in any way connected with our Sochi International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA) – I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year 2019.

We were immensely grateful to all of you who supported the 3rd Sochi International Film Festival and Awards which was staged from 11thto 16th December at the end of what was the difficult year of 2018. It is when the going gets tough, that the tough get going. However resilience and toughness require love and appreciation to sustain any great project and I am happy to say that we have delivered on our commitments for a third successive year, despite many challenges, and that perhaps we have even been tested and proven tougher than ever. We have been blessed with the continuing faith of our many supporters, the dedication of our staff, and the irrepressible creativity and imagination of all the artists and technicians whose film works enabled SIFFA’18 to happen.

There are thousands whom I could mention. We were also fortunate to receive interest and coverage by the media in hundreds of print articles and TV programmes in Russia, Britain and the rest of the world throughout last year, which inspired us to carry on, and brought SIFFA to the attention of an ever-wider audience.

There’s no doubt that 2018 saw us stiffening our upper lips, as the British say when times get hard, and moving onwards, pledging as we did publicly last March at our London Gala Awards, not to give up on the bridge-building principles which underpin our Film Festival, by promoting art through cinema, as we started out in 2016. The experience has been both an honour and a pleasure, thanks to the productivity and the cinematic achievements, which we have striven to provide a showpiece for, with the help of all our supporters and partners by our side.

I must express my especial gratitude here to the great city of Sochi. I remember my very first meeting with Sochi’s Mayor, Anatoly Pachomov. “Our city has had spectacular success with the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2014 which must be continued,” Mayor Pachomov told me. “If SIFFA can take up that responsibility, then I shall bless you and support you”. He has been as good as his word to me then, and SIFFA will go on delivering its unique contribution to Mayor Pachomov and the city of Sochi’s vision in the coming year of 2019.

Thank you, Mr Mayor, for your trust and support through these last three years of SIFFA. I was deeply appreciative when, during our recent 2018 SIFFA event in Sochi, the city’s Acting Vice-Mayor Marina Bralyuk bestowed on me the Mayoral Award for Culture, for achievements in Film. On behalf of SIFFA and personally, I want to thank the City very much for such high recognition.

It is because of the pre-eminent importance of culture in both Sochi and London, that many visitors from across Russia and Great Britain are drawn to both cities, and the rest of the world as well. We hope we have placed ourselves, by our efforts and achievements in SIFFAs 2016, 2017 and 2018, as a significant part of that story and helped to spread that message.

I hereby dedicate my Sochi Award to my wonderful team that worked truly hard to make our festival of cinema happen in two of the great cities of the world: Sochi and London. In all, we have staged five film festivals all told in the last three years. We have also made three successful presentations at Cannes Film Festival, at the Rosskino and UK Film pavilions and our own SIFFA booth; and we have staged Galas, Filmings and Conferences in Shenyang, China, Moscow and London. 

If I can ask you to indulge me a little longer, I am obliged and delighted to express my thanks to Senator Arsen Kanokov, of the Russian Federal Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, in the northern Caucasus region, for his great and endless support of SIFFA since 2016. The city of Sochi is a strategically crucial city of the North Caucasus of Russia. Therefore, with this Caucasian identity in our minds, we planned to give more careful attention in 2018 to the regional film industry to inspire and promote regional Caucasian talent. That aim is dear to the Senator’s heart, and we thank him for his guidance, leadership and mentorship in this important work. With this in mind, SIFFA’18’s special recognition Award went to an outstanding cinematic artist of the northern Caucasus, Vladimir Bitokov, a protégé of the well-known Russian film-maker, Aleksander Sokurov.

On the British side, London is of course a great centre of immense cultural heritage and continuing artistic energy. I am extremely grateful to all those artists, intellectuals, and representatives of the arts in Britain who were supportive to SIFFA through last year, not least the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The HQ of the Russian Ministry of Culture in the UK, Rossotrudnichestvo (the Russian House) in London, generously shared with us its facilities through the whole year, allowing us and them to host SIFFA events for hundreds of British and international film industry representatives. I would like therefore to say a massive personal “Thank You” to the Russian House in London – Rossotrudnichestvo – and above all to its head, Anton Chesnokov, his team, and to all those wonderful true friends of SIFFA who found us there.

Of course, the support we have received is numberless otherwise our ambitions to create a true Anglo-Russian International Film Festival and Awards would not be possible. Thank you all!

With the glamour and glitz of SIFFA’18 in Sochi still very tangible as it was only a few weeks ago, the temptation is to sit on our SIFFA laurels, to rest and contemplate our achievements, and bathe in warm feelings of contentment, whilst lovingly looking at my Sochi Award for Culture!

However, I do not intend to allow us more than a few days at most for this indulgent luxury. I would like to put all our followers on notice that we start planning for the next SIFFA, our 4thfestival, SIFFA’19 in Sochi, as of now will take place on November 16-21, 2019.

I also would like to inform you in a separate line that the submission lines for SIFFA’19 entries are opened now and the selection has already begun!

I invite you all to follow our news carefully on our website: There are some big changes due there therefore – not least on the date.

I also look with great hope towards those who have the potential to become our partners in 2019 and join our big SIFFA family.

Often a special message like this concludes with a famous proverb or quote. As we are in the movie business I could offer you, on behalf of and in the spirit of SIFFA: “I’ll be back” (The Terminator, 1984), or “Just keep swimming” (Finding Nemo, 2003), but I want to leave you with wonderfully written lines from Robert Burns. At the end of the day I am firstly a Poet.

For a' that, an' a' that, 
It's coming yet for a' that, 
That Man to Man, the world o'er, 
Shall brothers be for a' that.



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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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