From Russia with Love
March 24, 2018
There isn’t much love between the UK and Russia these days, in the wake of the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, but while the war of words continues between the two governments, at a cultural level there is a determination to keep things friendly. So there was a good turn-out — and no embarrassing demonstrations — at the gala UK premiere of Artyom Mikhalkov’s 2016 film, Betting on Love, at the Soho Hotel’s screening room in Soho last night. The event was all part of the London end of the Sochi Film Festival Awards (SIFFA) — a relative newcomer to the film festival circuit, based in the Black Sea resort that hosted the Winter Olympics four years ago. There were drinks and awards of various kinds before the Soho screening, with a great many bouquets of flowers. Stephen Frears — who collected a certificate, along with one for an absent Dame Judi Dench — was so festooned with blooms he could have opened a stall in Columbia Road market. Artyom Mikhalkov was on hand to receive his own Sochi gong. His film was a romantic comedy that made many nods to the rom-coms of the 1960s and 1970s, with a bit of James Bond thrown in. The hero was a diminutive Armenian waiter working in a sushi restaurant who nonetheless has the chance of winning the hand of a fair maiden. There are some nice gags about Russian mafiosi as well as armospheric location shots in Las Vegas, but the film was as frothy as whipped cream in a can — and everyone kissed, made up and paired off at the end.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.