Press release – SIFA presentation in London


Sochi International Film Awards (SIFA) hosted a presentation at two of London's most prestigious venues – British Academy of Film and Television Arts, at 195 Piccadilly, in the heart of the West End, and at the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), in the City – on February 23rd, 2017.

The events were held in London – as the centre of European cinema – to raise awareness of the success of the First Sochi International Film Awards, which were launched last year at the Cannes Film Festival, to further film as a peacemaking bridge.

Organised in the celebrated Russian resort Sochi, the festival brings together international audiences who believe that cinema has the power of reenergising a world in turmoil.

SIFA's London event focused on the screening of the Russian film "Two Women" and the presentation of two Special Recognition Awards to director Vera Glagoleva and co-star Ralph Fiennes for this beautiful new version of Turgenev's play "A Month in the Country". On behalf of Ralph Fiennes, who is currently in St. Petersburg preparing his film about Rudolf Nureyev, his award was received by David Kelly, UK executive co-producer of the film. For Vera Glagoleva, the award was received by the secretary of Russian Cinematography Union Sergey Novozhilov. This event took place in the prestigious private auditorium of the EBRD, with Larry Sherwin, Deputy Director of Communications of EBRD, welcoming the guests. After the screening and awards ceremony 300 guests were invited for a drinks reception. The animated company included actors, film-makers, writers, and representatives of many embassies and cultural departments.

The key event of the SIFA presentation at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) was honouring the memory of three legends of world cinema, Alan Rickman (UK), Andrzej Wajda (Poland), and Vladimir Zeldin (Russia). The commemorative trophies were received on behalf of Alan Rickman by the playwright and his colleague Christopher Hampton (CBE, FRSL), the British playwright, screenwriter, translator and film director; best known for his play "Les Liaisons dangereuses" and the film version "Dangerous Liaisons"; several times awarded for the best adapted screenplay by Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Tony Award.

Tony Palmer, a British film director and author, whose 100-plus films have covered the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner, Yehudi Menuhin; awarded with more than 40 international prizes for his work, including his 12 gold medals from the New York film festival as well as numerous BAFTA and Emmy Awards, spoke on behalf of Andrzej Wajda, who asserted humanist ideals in film.

The posthumous award for Russian legend Vladimir Zeldin will be presented in Moscow.

The SIFA presentation ceremony invitation list at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) included esteemed guests from Moscow and the Olympic city of Sochi, world-renowned actors, directors, entertainers as well as politicians and businessmen whose invaluable support made the First Sochi International Film Awards possible. Kenith Trodd (an award winning British television producer), Mike Sarne (UK No. 1 Hits), Janet Glass (well-known artist agent), George Savvides (well-known British television actor), Stuart Urban (director and TV writer), Mark Forstater (film producer), Richard Compton Miller (celebrated journalist and author), Irina Romanets (vice Mayor of Sochi), Christine Ryder (Cheltenham Mayor), Sergey Novozhilov (secretary of Russian cinematography union), Marina Hainsworth (doyenne of the distillery of Liverpool, spirited new sponsor of SIFA).

SIFA was founded in 2016 by Russian-British poet and filmmaker Luba Balagova-Kandour to promote universal values on the screen: peace, harmony and light through cinema; “to bring back the human ideals to the screen”.

The success of this new film festival, held for the first time on December 10-16, 2016, was possible in part thanks to the support of the mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, the deputy chair of the Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs Arsen Kanokov, the encouragement of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom, and the backing of Elliot Grove, founder of the Raindance Film Festival and British Independent Film Awards.

In creating the film festival, Balagova-Kandour and the SIFA team hope to show the world yet again that Russia and Great Britain (as well as other countries) have many more shared values than differences. “Our goal is to rebuild a reliable and strong cultural and economic cooperation ‘bridge’ between Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of the world; to create a special festival ambiance, an atmosphere of trust, friendship and co-operation; to establish a venue for promoting joint cultural and business ties and to forge a co-production platform,” stated Luba Balagova-Kandour.

The first festival achieved just that as it demonstrated the possibility of preserving and further developing creative and economic relationships within the framework of the global film festival movement. The new film festival is already enjoying wide recognition and positive reviews in the Russian and international media. Journalists and film critics agree that SIFA selected numerous full-length feature films that promoted the ideas of unity and commonality among different peoples of the world.


Other awards presented at the EBRD hall included:



SIFA President's Award - Maeve Murphy, director, Taking Stock

(Great Britain)

Best Cinematography Award - George Steel, cinematographer, Gozo (UK – Malta)



Kasia Madera – BBC World TV News presenter

Oleg Hill - actor (Russia, UK)


As part of its visit to SIFA in Great Britain the Russian delegation also toured the city of Cheltenham, Sochi's twin city since 1950.

The next festival is announced for December 10-16, 2017.

SIFA Press Service -                                                                      February 27, 2017

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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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