SOCHI International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA) arrives in London for a 3-day series of cinematic celebrations called SIFFA UK, from 21st to 23rd March 2018, climaxing with its Gala Awards Ceremony at London’s Soho Hotel (23 March).

SIFFA has established itself on the global film festival circuit, reaching its 3rd anniversary this year as an independent Anglo-Russian cultural showpiece, having successfully staged its first two Festivals in the glamorous Black Sea Riviera resort of Sochi in 2016 and 2017.

Sochi, with its year-round temperate climate and dramatic mountainous backdrop, has become famous as an international luxury resort in recent times, after hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The SIFFA UK 3-day programme includes screenings at its London base in Kensington of some of the best films shown at SIFFA 2017 (see full details including tickets at:

Friday night’s (23 March) Gala Awards Ceremony will see British director Stephen Frears honoured in person for the SIFFA 2017 Best Actor (Ali Fazal) and Actress (Dame Judi Dench) Awards in his period costume drama Victoria & Abdul.

Much-fêted director, Stephen Frears, cast British national treasure Dame Judi Dench in the role of Queen Victoria. Dame Judi has famously starred as British spymaster ‘M’ in seven James Bond epics. Frears will be accepting the honorary SIFFA ‘Irida’ Statuette, so-named after Iris, the Greek Goddess of rainbows and Irida, the Russian messenger of harmony.

The lady behind the SIFFA concept and its Founder and President, is the Anglo-Russian poetess, songstress, writer, and proud mother, Luba Balagova, from Sochi region originally. Now a naturalised British citizen based in Windsor, Berkshire, Luba has a distinctive vision of her film festival’s creation.

“Our Festival aims to dispel the grey colours of fear, cold war and mistrust, to cast the sunshine of Sochi to bring people together through the shared language of cinema,” Ms Balagova says. “I am honoured and grateful to host SIFFA UK in London and urge everyone to come and see us.”

Acclaimed Russian director Artyom Mikhalkov will be another honoured guest at the Gala, talking about and showing a special screening of his coming-of-age masterwork, Betting On Love.


For any further info, interview requests, photos, etc, see or contact: John Hellings, SIFFA Media Director on 07913 819784 or

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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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