The XXI International Debut Film Festival “Spirit of Fire” presents its out-of-competition programs. The featured films are a hundred years apart – the earliest one was made in 1913, and most of the other films were released recently and are not yet familiar to the public. Some of them have participated in the world’s major film festivals and one film has been nominated for the Oscar this year.
The Special Screenings program presents the most striking new releases. “Ayta” by Stepan Burnashev will allow the viewers to get their own opinion about the phenomenon of Yakutian cinema that is much talked and written about. “Wintertime” by Svetlana Ustinova is a directorial debut of the actress well-known from many films and TV series. “Dos Mukasan” by Aidyn Sakhaman tells the story of a legendary Kazakh musical ensemble, which the author traces back to the 1960s. Another Soviet legend, now in the fiction film, is the poetess Nika Turbina, whose life has been studied by Vasilisa Kuzmina in “Nika”. Natalia Meshchaninova’s “One Little Nighttime Secret” recently premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Ruslan Bratov’s “Express”, the “Circassian odyssey” of a young man nicknamed Sos, rounds up the program.
The theme of the 2023 film festival is “Indigenous Peoples of the World”, so it makes sense that one of the out-of-competition programs is devoted to small-numbered peoples. The audience will see both well-known films, winners of Russian and international film festivals (“Silent Souls” by Alexey Fedorchenko and “White Moss” by Vladimir Tumaev), and new films of different genres – “White Ghosts” by Eva Belova and “Exit” by Maxim and Evgenia Arbugaev. The first one is a documentary about reindeer squadrons during the Great Patriotic War. The second one, a story of walruses researcher in the Chukchi Sea, was nominated for the Oscar this year in the Best Short Documentary category.
Each year the “Spirit of Fire” presents a bright, unconventional retrospective. Andrei Tarkovsky, Aki Kaurismäki and Georgian film directors have ben protagonists of the program in the previous years. The name of the protagonist of the current retrospective is not so familiar to the modern audience. Peter Chardynin (1873-1934) was the most popular, prolific and, to use the modern language, the most successful director of the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema. His name is associated with the transition of cinema from the first experiments to a real industry and kind of art in our country. He made more than 200 films, and in his films Vera Kholodnaya played her best roles. The Spirit of Fire will screen “Uncle’s Flat”, “Mirages”, “Chrysanthemums” and “Be Silent, My Sorrow, Be Silent” The films will be shown in the Big Hall of the “Yugra-Classic” (March 4) and in the Arts Center for Gifted Children of the North (March 5) in a “silent movie with live music” format – with a piano score.
Another out-of-competition program is new for “The Spirit of Fire”. Experts, critics and fellow filmmakers will watch and discuss unfinished films in the “Work-in-progress” section. It will give the filmmakers an opportunity to get valuable feedback, and, maybe, to correct some rough edges and to cope with some difficulties, to plan ahead for the film’s distribution or collaboration with online platforms. The program includes seven films by Russian directors, including works by Inga Shepeleva, Anton Kolomeyets and Maxim Kuznetsov.
The festival will close with a screening of “Black Cat, White Cat”, one of the most famous films of the legendary filmmaker and president of the “Spirit of Fire” Emir Kusturica.