A DAZZLING array of new movies will light up Russia’s top seaside resort of Sochi at the Black Sea venue’s 3rdannual International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA’18), the organisers revealed in London today (1 Nov 2018).

The SIFFA’18 curtains were drawn back to show an enticing reel of world premières, Russian premières, and new cinematic offerings from around the world, even including a re-issued, re-mastered Biblical epic featuring British film giant Peter O’Toole from beyond the grave.

SIFFA unveiled its initial bill of their 2018 event, which starts on 11thDecember, at a packed ‘London Briefing’ Press Conference at The Russian Culture House in Kensington High Street.

The posthumous Peter O’Toole picture originally entitled ‘Katherine of Sinai’ features the screen heart-throb and Lawrence of Arabia star enticed out of retirement in 2013 to play the part of a Roman orator in a sword-and-scandal film by Michael Redwood - ‘Katherine of Alexandria’.

O’Toole, a real-life hell-raiser in his heyday, and the most nominated actor never to get a Hollywood Oscar, died in 2014 before the film in which he features for 25 minutes, was ready for release. The omens were not good and after an extremely limited showing in the USA, ‘Katherine’ – also entitled ‘Decline of an Empire’ - vanished from trace.

Now the movie’s original British director Michael Redwood has breathed new life into his work, renamed ‘Katherine of Sinai’ which also features a strong cast of virtuoso British character actors including Edward Fox and Stephen Berkoff.

Other full-length feature films confirmed entered into the SIFFA’18 Competition line-up include ‘Boogie Man’, directed by Briton Andy Morahan, which impressed the pundits at its first showing by scooping Best Picture Award at this year’s Cardiff International Film Festival. The comedy musical revolves around the romantic entanglements of an Anglo-Indian heroine, played by Amy Jackson.

Another notable première will be the screening of the late Russian actor-director Vera Glagoleva’s last work, ‘Clay Pit’. Miss Glagoleva was Chair of Jurors for the inaugural SIFFA’16 event, and her most recent film screened outside Russia was ‘Two Women’, starring Ralph Fiennes in 2014.

Already SIFFA’18 organisers have received over 800 submissions, across all categories (Feature, Short and Documentary), with the final deadline for entries to be considered closing on 10thNovember. See SIFFA’18’s website for full details at

SIFFA founder and President Luba Balagova chose to create a majority-female Jury to award SIFFA’s prestigious ‘Irida’ statuette honours this year. The Irida statuettes are named after the Goddess of the Rainbow and divine messenger.

Apart from Britain and Russia, SIFFA’18 will screen movies from Turkey, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Canada, Serbia and the USA.

In the Documentary section of competition will be the first chance outside Canada to see marine conservationist Rob Stewart’s acclaimed work ‘Sharkwater: Extinction’. The dedicated Mr Stewart died whilst filming his astonishing underwater record, which premièred at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Full lists of all movies to be screened in Competition, as well as in the Out-of-Competition section of SIFFA’18, special screenings in honour of chosen individuals and a new ‘Focus on the Region’ Northern Caucasus programme, supported by the Mayor of Sochi, will soon be available at SIFFA’18’s website –


Notes to Editors: Attached with this Press Release, if sent to you by e-mail, is a digital photograph of Mrs Luba Balagova, Founder and President of the Sochi International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA).Any further details, photo/interview requests, etc, please 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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