Quentin went, Sly was there, Elton John and entourage stole the limelight early on, Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve rolled up, yes, there’s only one place on Earth to be in the movie business in May – Cannes in the south of France.

The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival delivered its fair share of movie star dust, as always, and controversy too. So, merely to be selected for a showing at France’s supreme movie celebration is a genuine honour.

For young north Caucasian director Kantemir Balagov, SIFFA Founder and President Luba Balagova’s nephew, 2019 was actually the second time one of his films had been selected for screening at Cannes. His directorial debut at Cannes was in 2017 with ‘Closeness’, set in his home region near Sochi.

This year Russia’s fledgling cinematic prodigy was entered into one of the main three Cannes competitive categories, known as Un Certain Regard, for his feature length movie ‘Beanpole’, set in Leningrad in 1945 after that city’s relief from what had become one of the most atrocious and barbaric sieges in human history.

The Jury chose Kantemir Balagov’s ‘Beanpole’ for their Best Director award, a truly outstanding feat for a film-maker still only 28-years-old. Balagov was tutored by Russian movie maestro Alexander Sokurov at the highly successful film school set up under Sokurov’s leadership in the remote mountainous Caucasian town of Nalchik, 650 kms east of Sochi.

Kantemir’s aunt, SIFFA chief Luba Balagova was on hand to cheer her nephew on at the Cannes event, whilst also flying the flag for the 4th Sochi International Film Festival being staged in November this year.

“There was a lot of the usual Cannes hero worship of leading lights in our business, and it was good for SIFFA to be specially invited to the Opening Ceremony, where I was able to have a long discussion with Sylvester Stallone’s team, and of course Cannes is the nearest Europe gets to Hollywood and the Oscars,” said Luba, who made a stunning appearance on La Croisette in a cobalt blue designer gown.

“Naturally as a family we are delighted for Kantemir in his victory. I was also very glad to meet the late Rob Stewart’s parents over from Canada, as it was in Sochi last year and London in March at our UK Gala that we honoured their son’s remarkable achievement in underwater filming, ‘Sharkwater Extinction’.

“There were zombies, Hollywood top rankers such as Quentin Tarantino, and some of the greats of French cinema, but obviously best of all was a Russian movie taking such a high Award, made by my nephew, who is a native of the Caucasus, like me,” Luba said.


Notes to Editors: any further inquiries please contact SIFFA’s John Hellings on 07913 819784 and see the Website –

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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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