Magazine article Screen International

Ozon Wins Audience Prize in St Petersburg

Magazine article Screen International

Ozon Wins Audience Prize in St Petersburg

Article excerpt

St Petersburg International Media Forum closes inaugural edition with world premiere of Serena.

Francois Ozon's latest feature The New Girlfriend was voted as the Best of the Fest by the audience at the inaugural edition of the St Petersburg International Media Forum (SPIMF) which closed on Friday evening with the world premiere of Susanne Bier's Serena, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

However, neither director Bier, nor any of the talent were in St Petersburg for the film, which Volgafilm will be releasing in Russian cinemas on October 30.

Although there was no formal competition for SPIMF's film programme, a jury of local film critics was formed to give awards for what they regarded as the best film and TV series showing in the 2014 line-up.

Australian film-maker Anna Broinowsky's documentary Aim High In Creation, which screened in the KOR-KOR sidebar about North Korean cinema, was named best film, while the Press Award for best TV series went to Showtime's Homeland, with an honorary diploma for ¨broadening horizons and pushing borders of Russian television¨ recognising the pilot of CTC's series Londongrad about the Russian community in the English capital, which is set to air in 2015.

A third award - the Governor's Prize - to be awarded ¨to the feature film or series that popularies humanistic values and emphasise the role of culture in modern society with the most expressive means¨ mysteriously fell by the wayside during the closing ceremony produced by the Marinsky Theatre's director Vasily Barkhatov.

Screenings and market activities

The programme of 50 films in 10 programmes - regarded by some foreign guests as a strange mix of old and new - was primarily aimed at St Petersburg's cineastes and local film critics who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity of ever seeing many of these films in Russia. Some were presented with only Russian subtitles.

International guests were invited to DOORS market screenings of recent Russian productions such as The Fool, The Son and Two Women.

The attempt at establishing a market gave off mixed signals: some stands appeared to be rarely manned and others packed up shop before time, while the startups saw little traffic venturing into their alley.

Whether SPIMF will be able to establish itself in the future media calendar remains to be seen given the already packed schedule in the autumn with existing film festivals and TV markets.

As many Russian producers remarked, the North Seas Film Forum co-production gathering and discussion events at the Media Forum's business programme were all the more important in the current political situation where there was the danger of Russian cinema becoming isolated from the rest of the international film industry.

Meanwhile, the second edition of the Northern Seas Film Forum co-production gathering was secreted out of the way on the second floor, but this didn't stop intensive schedules of one-to-one meetings being undertaken by Russian co-producers with such West European production companies as Germany's Rohfilm and Pallas Film, The Netherlands' Volya Films, Ireland's Fastnet Films and Tailored Films, as well as sales agent Rezo Films and film funders Polish Film Instiute, nordmedia and Eurimages.

SPIMF's general producer Catherine Mtsitouridze delivered a final surprise at Friday's awards ceremony by inviting Tribeca Film Festival's artistic director Frédéric Boyer on stage to announce plans for a future collaboration between the Media Forum - in particular, Alexander Sokurov's Cinema Laboratory (CLAS) - with the New York-based festival.

Anti-piracy and quotas

Legislation to combat piracy and the question of introducing quotas on the number of non-Russian theatrical releases were among the items discussed in SPIMF's well attended three-day business programme.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily at the end of his stay in St Petersburg, Chris Marcich, MPA's President and Managing Director/EMEA, observed that ¨the anti-piracy legislation, which Russian producers like Sergey Selyanov and Fyodor Bondarchuk championed, has gone in the right direction. …

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