Old Windsor founder of Russian film festival hopes to bring nations together
The founder of the Sochi International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA) wants to reconnect the people of Russia and the UK through a shared love of film.
Luba Balagova Kandour, of Burfield Road, set up the event in 2016 with the aim of building a bridge between independent professional Russian cinema and the British filmmaking community.
With the two countries currently enduring a strained political relationship, the 51-year-old is hoping her event will help put politics to one side.
Luba, who moved to the UK 15 years ago, said: “I understand that I don’t have as much power as politicians but I believe that creating and building the festival will help people reconnect.
“I just want people to know that politics shouldn’t affect cultural bridges and the exchange of film.”
A screening will be taking place at London law firm Pinsent Masons on Thursday, where the winners of last year’s event will be showcased.
Vladimir Bitokov scooped the SIFFA Vera Glagoleva Prize for best debut for his film, Deep Rivers.
It tells the story of a family of lumberjacks living in the impoverished region of the Caucasus Mountains with themes of xenophobia and ineffective communication playing a prominent part.
Luba said this demonstrated the changing approach of independent Russian filmmakers, who are now covering social issues away from the capital, Moscow.
The mother-of-two added: “When you look at Vladimir he didn’t go to Moscow or St Petersburg.
“What he’s done is look into his own republic and the different language and culture there.
“The younger generation of filmmakers are definitely starting to show social problems that exist in the different regions of 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.