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VIII IRIDA Russian-British International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA 2020)

The official closing ceremony of the VIII Russian-British IRIDA International Film Festival and Awards (SIFFA 2020) and the IRIDA Music Festival took place November 7 at the Radisson Collection Paradise Resort & Spa Hotel Ballroom. The ceremony, hosted by Anna Andrusenko and Maxim Kolosov, was attended by Natalya Bondarchuk, Tamara Globa, Stephen Mao, Alena Khmelnitskaya, Vadim Dubrovitsky, Larisa Luzhina, Vladimir Khotinenko, Anna Kurkova, Grigory Adamenko, John Hellings, Jack Loy, Alexander Savelov-Deriabin, Ekaterina Semenova, Anastassia Razlogova and others.

The festival’s closing press conference was held at the Zimny Theater on November 8, where the following people spoke: SIFFA founder and president Luba Balagova-Kandour; SIFFA 2020 director of programming Nina Kochelyaeva; SIFFA artistic director,  film critic, television host, VGIK professor, festival’s artistic director, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Kirill Razlogov.

SIFFA Founder and President Luba Balagova-Kandour: We responded to the pandemic by holding two festivals – film and music, in parallel – instead of one and we had to do it well. Many of our guests are calling SIFFA the November light, and we appreciate it very much as this is despite the fact that we had to limit attendance. Many viewers attended online. I am confident that we will continue developing both sides of SIFFA – music and film. I promise that SIFFA will take place next year – 2021 – with exciting programs both in Russia and the UK and I can guarantee that you will find out more about our plans in the media here and worldwide.

Kirill Razlogov, SIFFA artistic director: “This has been a very interesting experience for me because I have been involved with the festival for a while now but the music festival was a first for me. I did not miss a single music performance and so I was able to compare different cultures, which are especially interesting given the context of the festival. In addition, the music festival raised the bar for the film festival to a rather significant extent.”       

Valery Vorona, IRIDA Music Festival art director:  Music is, and always has been, an intrinsic part of the synthetic art that is cinema, whilst above all being of paramount importance in its own right, for the universal development of culture in general. This year’s SIFFA music programme helped the festival reach new audiences, providing an opportunity to experience the treasures of world music, and allowing young musicians to attend masterclasses by famous performers. It was a great privilege to be part of this historical event.


  • OVERLINE – Best Feature Film

The film festival jury determined winners in the following four categories: Cell Cinema, Documentary Film, Main Competition and Short Films – Perspectives. The following prizes and diplomas were awarded:

  • Best film – CELL CINEMA Competition The Green Dress, director Julia Solovieva.
  • Special Mention by CELL CINEMA Competition Jury Grandma’s Tales, director Sati Balagova.

In 2016, at the First Sochi International Film Festival, Prof. Karl Bardosh had delivered the introductory lecture in Russia on Cell Phone Cinema at the City Center Film Theater, upon the invitation of Festival Director, Luba Balagova. As a follow-up, at the 2020 Russian-British Sochi International Film Festival and Awards, Prof. Bardosh introduced the first international competition of Cell Phone Cinema as a new category of the festival.

Prof. Karl Bardosh, Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: “By introducing Cell Phone Cinema at this film festival, Prof. Karl Bardosh and Festival Director, Luba Balagova encourage Russian filmmakers to join the ranks of this important new movement of filmmaking all around the world.”

Kirill Razlogov, journalist, film scholar: “… I was especially pleased to present the award for this type of filmmaking, which will be the leading trend in the world now and in the near future and to present it to someone from the generation that will be at the forefront for the next 50 years, the generation that will be defining the development of the screen art not just at home in Russia but worldwide.”

  • Best Documentary AwardTears & Dreams, director Lia Beltrami Giovanazzi.

Tatiana Yakovleva, film scholar, professor at VGIK (Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography), PhD in Art History, chairman of the Documentary Film Competition Jury: “I said at the opening ceremony that we expect to see poetry and beauty in films and I believe that our decision reflects exactly what we wanted to see in the documentaries. The filmmaker’s unique interpretation, the combination of beauty and poetry – that’s what was important for us. The selection of films was wonderful and choosing the winner was no easy task but our decision was unanimous.” 

  • Special Documentary Jury MentionForbidden Children, director Evdokia Moskvina
  • Special Documentary Jury Diploma A Shroud of Incense, director Sasha Kretsan
  • Best Full Feature Film – Overline, director and producer Vadim Dubrovitsky
  • Posthumous Award – Brian Dennehy for his role in Driveways and Ruslan Firov for his role in Cherkess
  • Best ScreenplayLove You Forever, director Tingting Yao
  • Best Actress and Best MusicPalindrome, director Marcus Flemmings
  • Best Actor – Brian Dennehy in Driveways (Produced by Maven Screen Media and Symbolic Exchange in association with Studio Mao), director Andrew Ahn
  • Best Set Design – Siege Diary, director Andrey Zaytsev  

Stephen Mao, producer, SKIN 2019 Academy Award winner, chairman of the Short Film Competition Jury: “I was happy to participate in this wonderful event. The festival went very well! I was also pleasantly impressed by the red carpet events, which took place even during press conferences. Film and music festivals went well and I am very impressed by their quality in these uncertain times. The film and music festivals give hope to all who participated, listened to us and watched us, which means that both festivals fulfilled their main mission – to provide light and hope for everyone’s well-being.”

Vladimir Shevelkov, theater and film actor, film director, screenwriter, producer, television host, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation: “An actor’s profession is rather unusual in that there is no criteria for judging the quality of their work other than the audience’s appreciation, the film director’s opinion or the awards, which makes it that much more pleasant to present awards to actors – because their lives are filled with doubt but there is no place for fear.”

  • Best DirectorFaraway Land, director Erkan Yazici.

Vladimir Khotinenko, director, screenwriter, actor, teacher, People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, chairman of the SIFFA 2020 Main Competition: I can sincerely say that the program was very good. I am sure that all of the films are worthy of being screened at any high-level film festival. What made me happiest was the fact that they focused on people. I wouldn’t want to see humans take second place to action films and thrillers. Russian cinema has a tradition of focusing on the human being. And the festival took the right direction in choosing it’s path.”

  • Vera Glagoleva SIFFA Award, the Best DebutMariam, director Sharipa Urazbayeva.
  • Special Main Jury Prize and Best Cinematography AwardBeautiful in the Morning, director Flavia Casà.
  • Best Short FilmMommy’s Calf, director Victoria Runtsova.
  • IRIDA President’s Award-Russian-British Sochi International Film Festival and Awards, President Luba Balagova-Kandour A Siege Diary for the best depiction of the strength of the human spirit and the bravery of the Soviet people in overcoming the humankind most horrific tragedy of the XXth century.

Luba Balagova-Kandour, founder and president of the VIII IRIDA Russian-British Sochi International Film Festival and Awards: “Every year  the President’s Award goes to the film that best fits the concept underpinning our festival. Our goal is to unite the cultures and the traditions of two countries – Russia and the UK. In England, in Europe so little is known about this immense tragedy, and I am ready to screen this film everywhere and to talk about the outstanding bravery of the Soviet people.”

  • Special Main Jury PrizeGando, director Teymour Ghaderi.
  • Media DiplomaThe Story of a Painting, director Ruslan Magomayev.
  • IRIDA golden statuette for an outstanding contribution to the development of cinema – actress Larisa Luzhina.

Several concerts took place at the festival, including the Sochi Symphony Orchestra performance under the direction of Oleg Soldatov and with participation of Russia’s leading musicians Valery Vorona, Mikhail Utkin and Sergey Radchenko. In addition, the audience was treated to screenings accompanied by live music, masterclasses, talks and music evenings involving Russian Souvenir Folk Instrument Orchestra, actor Peter Ferris, producer Anastassia Razlogova, Larisa Luzhina, Katya Semenova, Luba Balagova.

The film festival featured film screenings, a talk by actress Larisa Luzhina, a round table on the theme of “International Folk Culture Heritage as the Instrument of Cultural Advancement”, a talk by Luba Balagova, masterclass by Peter Ferris titled “Learning During the Pandemic: Music, Directing, Acting and the Audience”, and a talk by singer Katya Semenova.

Well-known directors, producers and actors also made presentations at the festival, among them television producer and director Mohy Quandour, People’s Artist of the Russian Federation Vladimir Khotinenko, actress Dee Anderson, actress Roseita Royce, actor Peter Ferris, film producer Anastassia Razlogova, film producer Stephen Mao, People’s Artist of South Ossetia Oksana Stashenko, producer Natalia Ivanova, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Valery Vorona, Documentary Film Competition Jury president Tatiana Yakovleva, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Vladimir Shevelkov and many others.

The festival is held thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Russian Culture Fund, the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom the Ministry of Culture of Krasnodar Krai, the Administration of the City of Sochi, Rossotrudnichestvo UK, Radisson Collection Paradise Resort & SPA Sochi, Sindika Film Productions Co., the Antropov Fund, as well as renowned filmmakers and cultural figures. 


Festival’s media partners: Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom, Rossotrudnichestvo UK, VGTRK – Sochi, Timeout, Kinoafisha,, Sochi Russian Radio, Max FM, Sochi, IDOL magazine.

SIFFA website

Media accreditation and additional information:

Victoria Antimenko, +7 (916) 720 3166,

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