History of Festival

The remarkable Russian film director Sergei Solovyov conceived an idea of the International
Debut Film Festival “The Spirit of Fire” in 2002 He had been the President of the festival for
almost twenty years at a stretch. Today, in the memory of Sergei Solovyov, the main award of
the festival for the best film in the Russian competition program bears his name.

Sergei Solovyov’s idea was supported by the then Governor of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous
District – Yugra Alexander Filipenko, and soon the Government of Khanty-Mansi
Autonomous District adopted a resolution to hold the first film festival from January 26 till
February 2, 2003 Besides Sergei Solovyov, the Festival Council included the famous actor
Alexander Abdulov and the scriptwriter Maria Zvereva. Over a year, the spearhead group
attended many international festivals around the world and laid down the concept of “The
Spirit of Fire”: to organize an annual review of the most important debut films of Russian
directors and to place them in the international debut films scene, as well as to develop the
best traditions of the Russian cinema.

For many years, the International Debut Film Competition has been the pivotal event of the
festival that showcased films from many countries. According to the festival regulations, out
of the 10-12 films in competition no more than 2 can be in the Russian language. The
competition flms are judged by an international jury composed of of acknowledged directors,
actors and other filmmaking professionals. They give out several festival awards,
accompanied with prize money. The Russian debut film program, which has always attracted
special attention of the audience, now has turned into an equally important competition, with
a jury and awards of its own.

Every year “The Spirit of Fire” features many themed screenings, out-of-competition
programs and retrospective screenings in auditoriums of Khanty-Mansiysk and the Khanty-
Mansi District – Yugra. The events provide the audience and festival participants with an
opportunity to view masterpieces of the world cinema as part of a bigger picture. Thus,
“festivals within a festival” devoted to such filmmakers as Mikhail Kalatozov and Andrey
Tarkovsky have been held. The annual children and teenagers film club has grown into a full-
fledged competion program “Your Cinema”, and the filmmaking club laid the foundation for
the Spirit of Fire Academy. Film screenings are accompanied by a remarkable cultural
program that includes concerts, photo and fine arts exhibitions.

All the festival films without exception are screened to full house. Khanty-Mansiysk is a city
of students, young people are the biggest part of the festival audience and the main judge.
Figures provided by film theaters at the end of each festival are impressive: screenings of the
first “Spirit of Fire”, that were held at only two cinema theaters, were attended by more than
50 thousand people. From then on, the number of festival venues and spectators has only

At the end of 2021 we all suffered a great loss: the all-time president and founder of the
festival Sergei Solovyov passed away. In his memory, we make the Spirit of Fire even

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