Sochi International Film Festival and Awards 2018



The 3rd Sochi International Film Festival and Awards took place from Dec. 11-16th, and it was a glamorous and glittering affair and showcased some amazing films, master classes and culminating in an awards show.

Sochi film festival 2018
Held in the beautiful resort town of Sochi, Russia, right on the Black Sea and at the base of the Caucasus Mountains (and home of the 2014 Winter Olympics), the festival has grown from strength to strength and this year had it’s the biggest year.

Siffa founder and ceo luba balagova
SIFFA Founder and CEO Luba Balagova speaking to a crowd at her seminar on the British-Russia film relationship photo by Vladimir Bogdanov

Close to 20 films were shown (including 14 of which were in competition for awards), 8 documentaries, and 19 shorts, with films from Russia and Britain as well Turkey, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Canada, Serbia and the U.S. The festival started with a lavish opening ceremony on the 11th and concluding with a glittering awards ceremony where various prizes were handed out (see list below). Prizes were given out not just for films but also to people who are instrumental in the promotion and advancement of the film.

Quandor speaking to an attentive crowd discussing his amazing life story
Quandor speaking to an attentive crowd discussing his amazing life story

In addition to films, screenings of which were held in and around Sochi, there were excellent master classes (seminars) including a Q&A with Mohy Quandor, who shared his life and work in film. SIFFA founder and CEO Luba Balagova presented a class in how she wanted this year’s festival to be about cementing the British-Russian film relationship – she also created a majority led female Jury this year to decide on the awarding of SIFFA’s prestigious ‘Irida’ statuette. The Irida statuette was named after the Goddess of the Rainbow and divine messenger. Other highlights of the festival included  Russian film actress and legend Larissa Luzhina and Quandor’s star installation ceremony (which included them putting their hands in cement to be included inside Sochi’s Luxor Cinema walk of fame), and UK politician Elizabeth Jones giving her opinions on ‘How to improve the British-Russian relationship.’

Vice president of siffa, elizabeth jones, quandor, balagova and siffa team member maya smundak
L-R: Charles Stewart – Vice President of SIFFA, Elizabeth Jones, Quandor, Balagova and SIFFA team member Maya Smundak Photo credit Tim Baros

The Sochi International Film Festival and Awards was a huge, huge success and congratulations must go to Balagova and her hard working team, as well as to the members of the jury who had some hard decisions to make. FAB UK is proud to be one of the sponsors of the festival. Look for a photo pictorial to appear in the next few days.

Main Competition

Main Prize:

“Horizon”, director Tinatin Kajrishvili (2018, Georgia – Germany)


Special Prize: 

“Clay Pit”, director Vera Glagoleva (2018, Russia)

Clay pit

Special Jury Diploma:

“Exciting Life”, director Anna Yanovskaya (2018, Russia) — “For the extraordinary combination of genres”

Exciting life

Best Film Director: 

“Strangers of Patience”, director Vladimir Alenikov (2018, Russia)

Strangers of patience
Original Screenplay: 

“Love Possibly”, scriptwriters Michael Boccalini, Michael Coburn, Che Grant, Kew Lin (2018, United Kingdom)

Love possibly
Best Director of Photography: 

“Pilgrim”, DOP Svyatoslav Bulakovsky (2018, Russia)

Vera Glgoleva Prize for the Best Debut:

“Deep Rivers”director Vladimir Bitokov (2018, Russia)

Deep rivers
Best Actor:

“Exciting Life”, actor Alexey Yudnikov

Exciting life
Best Actress:

“Strangers of Patience”, actress Maja Szopa

Strangers of patience
Best Production Designer:

“Horizon”, Production Designer Georgy (2018, Georgia – Germany)

Best Music:

“Pilgrim”, composer Alexey Aigi

PilgrimBest Costume Designer:

“Kathrine of Sinai”, Costume Designers Annie Curtis-Jones; Margaret McMasters; Stanley McMasters (2018, United Kingdom)

Documentary Film Competition

Best Documentary:

“A Thousand Girls Like Me”, director Sarah Mani (2018, Afganistan-France) — for professionalism, bravery, objectivity and taking a principled stand on human rights and support of the international women’s movement

 Special Mention

“Sharkwater Extinction”, director Rob Stewart (2018, Canada) — for sending a clear message to humanity and for the author’s civilian act of bravery

Best Short Film:

“Black Mamba”, director Amel Guelatty (2018, Tunisia) 

Special Mention:

“Scream”director Toma Stenko (2018, Russia-Georgia) — for cinematographic expressiveness, humanity and compassion in exploring the vicissitudes of human life

“Verka Fouettés”, director Inna Shcherban (2017, Russia-Spain) — awarded to actress Anna Nakhapetova for spirited flamenco dancing

SIFFA President’s Award

To Paulina Simacheva, Anna Nakhapetova and Vera Glagoleva for an inspired approach to transcending the limitations of time with arts.

SIFFA / SIFFA President’s Diplomas:

-for Kandinsky Ocean – for visualizing poetry in film

-to producer Anastassia Razlogova for intrepidly seeking out new combinations of genres on the other side of drama and non-drama films
-to Susanna Alperina, the producer of “Into Nation of Big Odessa” (dir. Alexandr Brunkovskiy) – for the creative approach in thinking about the local and the global at once

Awards for Contribution to building bridges between countries and peoples:

YEŞIM GÜZELPINAR, producer, Turkey-United Kingdom

SIFFA Management Awards:

“The Greek of the Russian Empire directed by Svetlana Muzychenko — For preserving the cultural heritage and historical memory to producer Zlatina Filipova, film “Runaway Smartphone” – for creating and advancing films for children

Special Press Awards:

Goes to Kostadin Bonev – director of the feature film “Away from the Shore” – for discussing the theme that never goes away: balancing art and power goes to Igor Poplaukhin, director of the short “Calendar” – for highlighting a very topical issue – that of the right of the modern women to go beyond her daily chores goes to Svetlana Stasenko, director of the documentary “SHAMANIC LESSONS FOR BEGINNERS” – for using simple language to discuss a mystery-filled topic and for showcasing the traditions of the peoples of the Russian Federation.

Away from the shore
Article by Tim Baros
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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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