On April 14 in Volgograd the VII International Film festival, “Vkratze!”2019 Days of German and Russian short films concluded its work. The Festival was supported by a grant from the Presidential Grants Fund and by its title partners – Mikhail Prokhorov Fund and Goethe Institute (Moscow).
The “Vkratze!” festival took place from April 9 to 14 and comprised not only shows of competing short fiction, documentary, animated and experimental films, but also a variety of events to make this movie celebration in Volgograd yet brighter and more substantive.
34 films out of more than 3 hundred were picked for the competition. The children’s/family program showed 14 movies. In the course of the past few years, the geographical spread of the festival has traversed its original frame of Russian and German film festival. Apart from Russia and Germany, films from Belarus, Iran, Abkhazia, Israel, Italy and USA entered the competition.
The jury members of the VII “Vkratze!” film festival were:
Swetlana Slapke, Doctor of Philosophy and Arts History, member of Arts Council and screening committee of Cottbus Eastern European films festival, general director of “Eurasia Global Connecting” agency (Berlin);
Alexander Pavlov, Russian legal scholar, philosopher, culture expert, historian of political philosophy, political analyst and film critic, Candidate of Juridical Studies, assistant professor (Moscow);
Yılmaz Arslan, award-winning German film director, script writer and producer (Mannheim). His film “Sandstern” (“Sand star”) opened the festival and stroke a deep cord in the audience. “Sandstern’s” rerun and a meeting with its author took place on April 12 in “Alternative” cinema club of Volgograd State Institute of Arts and Culture.
The program of the Volgograd International Film festival included 7 contest shows with 4 to 6 short films in each, discussions, lectures “Postmodernism and cinema” by Alexander Pavlov and “Horror of technology: why new things scares us so?” by Alexander Akulinichev, “VR films as a new development in cinema” master class by director Maxim Nikonov, public talks “Modern tendencies in film industry” moderated by Dmitry Skvortsov, special program of German films from the program of International Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival “Short Export 2019”, and a scipt-writing workshop with director, script writer and producer Esther Niemeyer.
Concerts of Moscow ensemble of modern music “Travel Russian Avant-garde” (“The Leap of Steel”) and “Living Room music” with the show of a film on history of Russian XX century art from “Arzamas” educational portal became a true gift to connoisseurs of quality academic and modern music.
This year, the subject of the festival was “borderlines” in the broader sense of the word. The chairperson of the jury Swetlana Slapke says about this choice: “I had a personal interest in the conception of the festival. The slogan was a welcome surprise: border, intersection, crossroad. Such subject is of interest for any festival at any time. But what I liked was that the organizers managed to select films that fit the subject perfectly. A big compliment goes to the organizers that succeeded in keeping to the topic, which is not that often at film festivals”.
For the first time at the Volgograd film festival VR (Virtual Reality) and 360° movies were shown. The shows took place thanks to technical and administrative support of “Great Gonzo Studio” with the help of proprietary system of synchronous display and remote control of VRCM devices powered by Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Samsung Gear VR goggles. Full-dome (spherical) films are made with special cameras that shoot with 360 degrees panorama. This allows the viewers to see picture without the usual frames, choosing where to look at by himself, which makes the viewer a co-author of the film to a certain degree. The program comprised 21 films: a selection from Russian VR Seasons program previously shown at Cannes, Berlin, Moscow, and other international and Russian film festivals, and several other most known award-winning full-dome works from Germany. For residents of Volgograd it was the first chance to get to know the future cinema so far. Maxim Nikonov, who is a practitioner of the new area, held a workshop revealing secrets of this unique cinematic art.
The festival was preceded by the PREfest special program that started on March 10, and ended the day before the festival itself was opened. PREfest also presented a chance for the audience to see quality independent films and to meet film-makers. For instance, script writer, director and producer Yulia Kiseleva not only brought her new film “Brain. The Second Universe” to Volgograd, which had two displays before the festival opened, but also held a seminar for journalist. At the seminar she addressed cultural journalism, talked about focus points in writing reviews and how one should communicate artists. Yulia was very complimentary about the “Vkratze!” festival: “If a city has a festival, certain audience starts to form that awaits keenly for the event, the opportunity to see new quality movies”.
Prior to the main festival days, Children’s festival days took place. The program also comprised not only shows of family movies, but creative labs and workshops as well. Theater director and educator Yana Tumina (winner of several “Golden Mask” and other theater awards, Saint-Petersburg) headed a theater workshops for educators and tutors of “special children”, children with disabilities. And in the period from April 4 to 8 in Gorky Library educators from Saint-Petersburg “Da” (“Yes”) Art Center held an inclusive creative workshop with Volgograd children for creating animated films. Experienced tutors and directors Alexandra Pivovarova, Maria Saskevitch and Dmitriy Ivanov invited the young participants of the workshop to an imaginary walk in their beloved city, where fact and fantasy get entangle into one story. The children succeeded in creating two animated films that were shown at the closing of the festival in the Volgograd Planetarium.
For the audience of the Children’s Days the organizers prepared a program of international children’s and family films for various age divisions. Shows took place in Volzhsky (“Yunost” Youth Palace) and Volgograd (Volgograd Regional Puppet Theater). The show in Volgograd also provided audio description commentary for vision impaired people with the support of Volgograd Regional Special Library for the blind (audio description speaker – Natalia Prianikova).
Contest film shows of the main program took place in several Volgograd venues. The festival developed an audience of its own, which is mostly young people. They took great interest in participating both in shows and in the ensuing discussions, which were skillfully hosted by an expert in cinema philosophy and hermeneutics Dmitriy Skvortzov. The viewers provided a very warm welcome for the guests of the festival – those who participated in the production of the contest films. Such guests were plentiful at the film forum. Artists from Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Germany, Iran and Israel gladly communicated with the audience and answered all questions. The dialogue turned out very important for both of the parties. At the prize-giving ceremony on the closing day one of the festival winners Evgeniy Zverev said: “I thank the organizers for the chance they gave to be seen and heard. Our films are first and foremost made for the viewer”.
The closing ceremony of “Vkratze!” 2019 was held on April 14 in the Volgograd Planetarium. The program director, producer and initiator of this Volgograd cinematic forum Inessa Tropina began her address with the words of gratitude for all participants, jury members, experts, audience, and, of course, to the partners, due to whom this film celebration became possible in Volgograd.
Jury member Alexander Pavlov did the special jury prizes awarding. The winners were the following films: “Starvation” (dir. Zakhra Rostampur, Iran, 2018), “The Rules” (dir. Evgeniy Zverev, Russia, 2018), “Picture” (Dir. Asatur Avagian. Russia, 2018).
Film director Asatur Avagian, who previously lived in Volgograd, confided: “I came to the festival to get acquainted with the people who are keenly interested in movies, because I plan to shoot a full-length film in Volgograd”.
For the first time in the history of the Volgograd festival prizes were awarded for acting. Semyon Shigin (“Trip to Paris”, dir. Maria Poliakova, Russia, 2018) and Yuliana Mikhnevich (“Planet alignment”, dir. Vera Smolina, Russia, 2018). In his response speech Semyon Shigin thanked the director of the “Trip to Paris” film shot in a young offender institution for her courage to make a movie in such conditions, and added: “I thank the organizers of the festival. It’s very good to have such festivals, and I wish we had more of them in Russian provinces”.
The curators of the festival established their own special prize and gave it to “Snow White” (dir. Thadeusz Tischbein. Germany, 2017) and “Engineer Fedorovich” (dir. Elena Murganova, Russia, 2018).
The prizes for the Children’s films contest went to “Good Heart” (dir. Eugeniya Zhirkova, Russia, 2018) – first place, “The Gift of Alice” (dir. Gabriele Marino, Italy, 2018) – second place, and “Are you volleyball?” (dir. Mohammad Bakhshi, Iran, 2018).
The announcement of the top awards of the main short film competition of the VII film festival “Vkratze!” was entrusted to jury member Yilmaz Arslan, a film director from Germany. He stressed out the genre variety of the contesting films and their high artistic qualities, and also thanked the organizers of the festival for their trust and given opportunity to evaluate the competition works, and then the names of the winners were announced:
third place – “Flying fishes” / “Parvaz Mahiha” (dir. Mohammad Towrivarian, Iran, 2018);
second place was given by the jury to “Three days of Klava Gracheva” (dir. Ivan Grigolunas, Russia, 2018);
the main prize of the festival was awarded to the film by Russian director Anna Kuznetsova “628” (Russia, 2018).
The festival ended with a show of Natalia Meschaninova’s film “Core of the World” (Russia-Lithuania, 2018). The Volgograd film festival bids good-bye to its audience till the next year. The festival team extends a heartfelt thank you to all the guests, participants and viewers of the festival, journalists that showed interest in the project, the festival’s partners and sponsors.
The project is implemented by Young ”Talents Fund (Artkids)” NPO, Autonomous non-commercial organization for the development of human capital assets “Open City”, Volgograd Institute of Arts and Culture, and Cinema club “Alternativa (The Alternative)”. The project is implemented with a grant of the President of the Russian Federation for civil society development, provided by the Presidential Grants Fund, and also with the support of the title partners – Mikhail Prokhorov Fund and Goethe Institute (Moscow).
Photo (C) Karolina Ruzanova