The Mayor of the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi has backed the Anglo-Russian SIFFA Film Festival which hosted a glittering UK Gala night in London’s Soho last night (23 March).
Speaking on behalf of Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, Russian Ministry of Culture Film Festival Committee member Sergey Novozhilov told the Gala guests: “The Mayor of Sochi is very proud of his city and the Sochi International Film Festival project, now in its third year. Mayor Pakhomov says to you at SIFFA UK tonight, that we are in dramatic times now, however these political problems should fade. Sochi is rich in hospitality and will extend a particular welcome to SIFFA when it next comes to us in December this year.”
The SIFFA UK Gala at London’s Soho hotel, saw hundreds of guests gather for an Awards ceremony in honour of five British prize-winners at last December’s main event in Sochi.
Veteran and acclaimed British director Stephen Frears collected an Honorary Award for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in film, as well as accepting Awards for Best Actress (Dame Judi Dench) and Best Actor (Ali Fazal) for their lead roles in Frears’ latest movie hit, Victoria & Abdul.
“It’s a very, very good feeling to get three prizes – thank you so much,” joked the Oscar-winning director.
Earlier, in her welcoming speech, SIFFA founder and president Luba Balagova spoke of the “fragility of the artistic ties between Britain and Russia” but vowed she would carry on her mission to keep a cultural bridge open between the two nations through her film festival.
Hollywood star Nick Nolte also flew in to lend his support. Tough guy Nolte, won an Oscar in Prince of Tides and hit Box Office gold pairing with Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours and sequel Another 48 hours.
“I believe that film can be separated from politics and create dreams, not tragic ends – I pay due tribute to the Sochi International Film Festival, it’s great to be here tonight, and I would love to come to Russia too,” said Nolte, who goes on location in Germany next week
Notes to Editors: for further information on the Sochi International Film Festival and Awards and SIFFA UK in London, see our official Website at: You can also contact our Media Director, John Hellings, at or on 07913 819784.

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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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