Best cinema professionals and amateurs to judge best films

Minsk Listapad International Film Festival being held for 19th time
By Veniamin Mikhailovsky

The film festival opened in the Palace of the Republic’s Big Hall, with around 150 Belarusian and foreign screen stars taking to the red carpet. Meanwhile, the Small Hall hosted a screening of Sergey Loznitsa’s In the Fog, after the opening ceremony.

Russian director and script writer Andrey Zvyagintsev is heading the jury of the main feature film competition and promises to be a democratic judge.  He explains, “I don’t understand the idea of being ‘a strict judge’, it’s all about defence of your point of view on what have you seen on the screen. I’m more democratic: the jury comprises five members so I wouldn’t attach any special priority to the position of chair. I only differ from the others in having the casting vote, which I can use if we reach a stalemate. Such a situation may not occur although we’re likely to argue a great deal in making our decision. I’m confident that we’ll come to a common consensus though.” 

Mr. Zvyagintsev took part in Minsk’s Listapad International Film Festival previously, screening Yelena; this won the jury prize in the ‘Special View’ competition at the Cannes Film Festival and opened Listapad in 2011. Other jury members comprise the director, composer and actor Igor Volchek (Belarus), Ukrainian actor, director and script writer Georgy Deliev, film critic and cinema and theatre researcher Birgit Beumers (UK) and film expert and critic Nina Tsyrkun (Russia).

An honorary guest of Listapad-2012 is famous film director, script writer, producer Karen Shakhnazarov, who works as the general director of Mosfilm Studios. He is delighted to be in Minsk and admits that his last trip was at least a decade ago, when he was accompanied by now-deceased actor Oleg Yankovsky. “It’s always best to attend a film festival as a guest,” he smiles.

The chair of the jury for the Youth on the March feature film competition, American producer Christine K. Walker, hopes that the Minsk forum will prove interesting and exciting. As president of the independent New Globe Films studio and a founder of Werc Werk Works, Ms. Walker is known for her love of independent film directors. As to whether she’d consider a joint film production with Belarusfilm National Film Studio, she notes that, as a producer, she is always keen to find new partners. Ms. Walker’s passion for cinema makes her open to suggestions from foreign colleagues, including those from Belarus.

Galina Adamovich, who is chairing the jury of the main documentary film competition, is one of the most well-known directors from Belarus, having won prizes at international festivals for most of her works. Her Oh, My God! has won over 15 prizes, including the Grand Prix of the Class A International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary.

According to Ms. Adamovich, the effectiveness of a jury much depends on the diversity of its members. “Our jury comprises five members so, if we all agree that a film is the best, it really must be so. It’s when opinions differ that discussions become more challenging.”

She believes that competition in this year’s non-fiction category is very strong, so it will be difficult to choose.
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