Judi Dench: Dame's cold shoulder for a Russian film festival
DAME Judi Dench, who has played spy chief M in seven James Bond films, has pulled out of making an appearance at a Russian film festival gala evening in London this Friday.
Dame Judi, 83, is still being billed as the star guest for the Sochi International Film Festival and Awards ceremony at the Soho hotel.
However, just one day after Russian father and daughter Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury, she informed organisers by email that she was unable to attend but wished the event well.
A festival spokesman said her decision not to attend was not influenced by the unfolding events in the cathedral city in Wiltshire.
Judi Dench will not make an appearance at the Russian Sochi International Film Festival gala
However, her non appearance has placed organisers in a difficult position as she was to have been the big star of the night and she is still being given top billing on a website for the event.
British director Stephen Frears is still going and will be honoured for his wry costume drama Victoria And Abdul, featuring Queen Victoria’s friendship with an Indian Muslim servant.
Mr Frears will accept the Irida statuette, which is named after Iris, the Greek goddess of rainbows, and Irida, the Russian messenger of harmony.
Last year festival organisers awarded Dame Judi a best actress award for her role as Queen Victoria in the box office hit and Ali Fazal, who played Abdul, was given best actor award.
Judi Dench as 'M' and Daniel Craig in Skyfall
In GoldenEye, Dench’s M described Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War”.
M was shot and killed in Skyfall.
SIFFA, the Sochi International Film Festival and Awards organisation, was set up three years ago as an independent cultural event to showpiece films and improve relations between Britain and Russia.
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.