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IRIDA Film Festival Winners

Russian-British Film Festival IRIDA (SIFFA) was held in Sochi for the sixth time. The international film forum finished with a recognition of the competition winners.

This year, due to COVID restrictions Sochi’s popular film event was held online November 5-9. It main events were broadcast on the festival’s platform at

In addition to competition and out-of-competition film screenings, the program also included talks and masterclasses. The founder of the popular British film festival Raindance, British Independent Film Awards, producer and instructor Elliot Grove from London taught two online classes (about running film festivals and about the role of music in film).

Vladimir Khotinenko’s film Demons was screened to commemorate Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 200th anniversary. Of note was also a concert to commemorate outstanding director Vladimir Menshov, where People’s Artist of Russia Raissa Riazanova performed.

The festival’s closing ceremony was recorded on November 9 in the Ballroom of Radisson Collection Paradise Resort. International jury members and filmmakers were part of the ceremony.

On the red carpet were theater and film actors Raissa Ryazanova, Natalya Bondarchuk, Oksana Stashenko, Alena Khmelnitskaya, Evgeny Dyatlov, Aleksandr Tyutryumov. The red carpet also saw singers Katya Semenova and Irina Gribulina, directors Vladimir Khotinenko, Vladimir Alenikov, Anatoly Balchev, Beslan Terekbaev, film experts and professors Tatiana Yakovleva and Elena Razlogova.

Film forum’s closing ceremony hosts Anna Miklosh and Maxim Kolosov made a brief presentation of the festival program enjoyed by art aficionados.

The organizers remembered SIFFA’s first art director Kirill Razlogov who died in September. Festival president Luba Balagova announced that he was posthumously awarded a prize, accepted by Kirill’s daughter, member of the short film jury Elena Razlogova. Festival organizers announced a decision to award an annual Kirill Razlogov Independent Film Critic Award.

The film Kirill Razlogov 75’ Birthday Party was screened for the audience. The film is a declaration of colleagues’ love for a true professional. It is a fun description of the respected film and cultural studies expert made to celebrate his 75th anniversary.

After the jury members from Russia, Great Britan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Canada were presented, it was time for the long-awaited part of the evening – the announcement of the winners of the three competitions. They were asked to come on stage to receive the golden Irida statuettes and other prizes. Some directors were unable to come to Sochi but they recorded messages that were screened at the ceremony.

The evening culminated in the announcement of the title of the Best Feature Film – Nikita Arzhakov’s Tygyn Darkhan. The film, made in Sakha Republic (Yakutia), is based on important historical events of the end of 16th-beginning of the 17th century. The main character, Tygyn, is the head of an influential clan, considered to be the uniter of Yakut tribes.

The film’s creators were able to convey the atmosphere of the era. Director Nikita Arzhakov sent in a video thanking jury members and festival organizers.

The Vera Glagoleva Award for best debut full feature film was awarded to Indian director Kripal Kalita. The Indian film The Bridge is an honest account of the difficult life of peasants on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, a story full of empathy.

Short Film Competition

The winner was selected from among nine competition films by the following jury members:

  • Elena Razlogova, head of the jury, professor at Concordia University in Montreal, film studies expert,
  • Beslan Terekbaev, CEO of Chechenfilm, director, screenwriter, producer,
  • Dmitry Yakunin, director of Budem zhit’! film festival, producer.

Best Short Film Saiti, Son of Zoulya (Russia, Ingushetia), directed and produced by Amur Amerkhanov. The main character, teenager Saiti, has to decide quickly what is more important: the desire for revenge or the ancient hospitality law.

Special Jury Mention The Stench (South Korea). Director and screenwriter Won Jang received a diploma “for concise visual expression of a complex philosophical problem of social isolation”.

Documentary Competition

The winner was selected from among seven competition films by the following jury members:

  • Gulbara Tolomushova, head of the jury, member of FIPRESCI and Union of Cinematographers of Kyrgyzstan, film studies expert and film critic,
  • Elena Demidova, documentary filmmaker,
  • Vladimir Marin, creator of popular sciences films, director.

Best Documentary Film Pianist from Ramallah by Avida Livny (Israel). In order to achieve his dream of becoming a pianist talented teenager Muhammad from Palestine overcomes many obstacles over four years: borders, separation from his family, prejudice, COVID restrictions.

Special Jury Mention Russian film Beaumonde Scrapping. Nikolai N. Victorov received a diploma for “accurately depicting communication between the director and his character”.

Main Competition Winners

The winner was selected from among twelve competition feature films by the following international jury members:

  • Mohy Qandour, honorary head of the jury, producer,
  • Natalya Bondarchuk, head of the jury, Honored Artist of Russia, director,
  • Francis Barber, co-head of the jury, Hollywood and British actress,
  • Alena Khmelnitskaya, television presenter, theater and film actress,
  • Alexander Litvinov, producer, Honored Cultural Figure of the Russian Federation,
  • Marat Akhmedzhanov, vice-president of the Vice-Chairman of Eurasian Creative Guild (UK-Kazakhstan)

Head of the Main Competition Jury Natalya Bondarchuk exclaimed before the awards ceremony: “Awarding creators of good films is pure happiness!”

  • Best DirectingZero Nine, director Bakhtyar Fatah (first Iraqi thriller).
  • Best ScreenplayWarning (US).
  • Best Cinematography Yuri Berezhnev, DOP, Tygyn Darhan.
  • Best Production Design Peter Boyarkin, production designer, Tygyn Darhan.
  • Best Actress actress Shiva Rani Kalita for The Bridge (India).
  • Best Actor – Tolepbergen Baisakalov, lead in the film Fire directed by Aizhan Kassymbek (Kazakhstan).
  • Best Music Rob Marshall who composed the music for 7 Hours on Earth directed by Patricia Sharpe in addition to producing the film.
  • Special Main Jury Prize went to Vladimir Alenikov for Heavenly Team (Russia).

Special diplomas were awarded to directors:

  • Anatoly Balchev for long-term dedication to his project The Passenger from San Francisco (Russia-US).
  • Galina Urazova for best sound design in The Trap (Russia).
  • Daria Binevskaya for the kindest film, Africa (Russia).

Jury co-chair, Hollywood and British actress Frances Barber noted the quality of competition films. She was most impressed by the film Africa, a story about a dog saving a family during the siege of Leningrad.

SIFFA President’s Award went to the creators of the cinematic performance Sound-Signs of the Circassian (Adyghe) Language + the Transformation of Malevich’s Black Square from Kabardino-Balkaria. The award will be given to artist Ruslan Tsrym for providing a vivid example of performance art that combines the primacy of language and art and to director Tamerlan Vasiliev for depicting it on the screen.

Press Award was given to the film Warning (USA). Its creators try to predict the future of humanity, when technical innovation cannot mitigate people’s flaws. The film is urgent and important as a stark reminder of the fragility of our planet.

At the ceremony the Press Award was accepted by the one of producers Stephen Mao.

The evening was festive thanks to music performances by honored artists of Russia Evgeny Dyatlov and Aleksandr Tyutryumov. The audience also had the pleasure of listening to the soloist of Bzerbze art group Artur Dyshekov and the Honored Artist of Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, winner of Channel One’s Golos show Asker Berbekov. Shagdi Folk Dance Ensemble from Nalchik performed fiery Kabardian dances.

Traditionally, the evening culminated with Katya Semenova’s performance of the festival’s anthem Irida that she wrote six years ago.

At the press conference Luba Balagova spoke of the importance of the film forum in these trying times:

«COVID was unable to stop us, we moved online because we have to provide moral support to people, to help them feel happy, give hope for the future using cinema, music and literature. We have to remember timeless values, high ideals and morality. In these times of isolation, disagreements and restrictions we are able to melt the ice created by mistrust and improve relationships between people from different countries.”

Luba Balagova said that the winning films will be presented at the SIFFA film festival in the UK in February of 2022.

IRIDA Film Festival (SIFFA) is a Russian-British cultural project founded in 2016.

Its international film events take place in Sochi and London with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Administration of the City of Sochi, Embassy of the Russian Federation in the UK, Senator Arsen Kanokov, The Antropov Fund, hotel Radisson Collection Paradise Resort and Intis Telecom.

The project is also supported by a number of non-profit and for-profit organizations and well as artistic associations.

SIFFA site:

Festival’s video archive:     

SIFFA Public Relations

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