THE WORLD’S most prestigious international film festival for Muslim movie-makers, staged in the ancient UNESCO-protected city of Kazan in the middle of Russia, has signed a partnership agreement with its Black Sea counterpart, the Sochi International Film Festival (SIFFA), it was announced on 25 April.

SIFFA Founder and President Luba Balagova answered the call from the President of Tatarstan, a special Republic within Russia, to be a VIP guest of the 15th Muslim Film Festival in Tatarstan’s stunning capital city, Kazan, by the mighty Volga river.

Festival organiser Tatarkino welcomed SIFFA’s creator with a traditional dancing troupe and singing at Kazan International Airport.

The high reputation of Kazan’s long-established Muslim Film Festival ensures movies are shown from across the huge Asian continent including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and many European countries with sizeable Muslim populations.

The tie-up between SIFFA, which has a very distinctive Anglo-Russian flavour, and the Kazan International Muslim Film Festival, will see exchanges of movies to be given premiere screening in Kazan in April, Sochi in November and the British capital city of London the following March. The agreement leaves open the possibility for agreeing to further exclusive screenings at other venues in Great Britain, organised by SIFFA.

“Kazan is an amazing city with a wonderful spirit, and I especially appreciate the strong involvement of both old and young women in the film business here in Tatarstan,” SIFFA Founder and President Luba Balagova told reporters as she was serenaded off her flight from Moscow.

“Our agreement marks just the beginning, and I am extremely grateful to the Kazan Festival’s governing body that they have shown this sign of great faith in us, which I believe will help to develop and promote cinema in Tatarstan and across the Muslim world,” said Ms Balagova, herself a native of Circassia, now living in England.

The Republic of Tatarstan with the domed citadel, cathedrals and mosques of Kazan its magnificent capital, sits on 1 billion tons of untapped oil reserves and at least as much natural gas as well. It is home to the Russian aviation industry producing most Tupolev and Ilyushin commercial jet-planes. It occupies a special position in post-Soviet Russia as a peaceful, productive and stable territory with a majority Sunni Muslim population.


Notes to Editors: Any further inquiries – please contact SIFFA’s John Hellings on 07913 819784. Also see our Website at This Link will connect to the official Kazan International Muslim Film Festival News Release, issued in April 2019:


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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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