“The Spirit of Fire” becomes a centre of film education and a point of attraction for film professionals from all over the world, as was announced at the press conference devoted to the opening of the XXI International Debut Film Festival “The Spirit of Fire”. It took place today in the regional media holding “Yugra”. Elena Shumakova, the Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District – Yugra, said that this year they started a large-scale project within the festival: the “Spirit of Fire” Academy, that will include workshops and schools of ethnic cinema.
“The Spirit of Fire” is the main cultural event in Yugra. Today it provides not only access to international premieres, but also new knowledge in the ethnic film school. Over the two decades, “The Spirit of Fire” has become much more than just a festival. Today it is an academy that has already graduated directors who made a successful start with their films in the Russian and international film context,” said Elena Shumakova. She emphasized that “The Spirit of Fire” has made an impact on the development of the creative segment of the district’s economy.
“Our mission now is developing international cultural exchange. It is valuable that the “Spirit of Fire” academy branched out from the big project “The Soul of Russia – the North”. The Northern culture is based on the following principles: harmony with oneself and the nature, respect for the whole world. It is the principles that the programme of our festival is based on. It is very important for us that “The Spirit of Fire” academy fosters student exchange programs with other countries and attracts filmmakers to Yugra”, said Elena Shumakova. A number of agreements, aimed at development of regional film production venues, have been signed.
The Roscongress Foundation is a new communications partner of the festival. Elena Marinina, Deputy Director of the Foundation, said that the business program participants will discuss advancement of the ethnic cinema in the world, in the regions of the North and the Arctic. The program has been developed with the Roscongress participation and will happen at the festival for the first time.
“Our task is to create a new platform for dialogue and establishing business and creative cooperation among filmmakers. It is very important to foster international cooperation. This year, we are planning to hold both Russian events in India and Indian film dialogues and film festivals in Russia, in Yugra. We hope that this cooperation will engender many interesting projects”, said Elena Marinina.
Maria Zvereva, the festival vice-president, mentioned that international ties of “The Spirit of Fire” are only getting stronger. According to her, “The Spirit of Fire” is not only a great event for Yugra, it is also the biggest international event in Russia at the moment. In the current difficult situation we absolutely maintain our status of an international festival, not a fictitious one. Films from all countries are represented here, both friendly and unfriendly. Artists are always concerned with the humane things, and their friendly attitude remains unchanged.
Peter Shepotinnik, the chairman of the festival selection committee, a renowned director, film critic and television presenter, underscored that all the films submitted for the Russian and international competitions are unique, and no particular genre gets an advantage. The Russian competition program of “The Spirit of Fire” includes six debut films, and the the international competition features seven films.
“All the debuts are different: there are urban comedies and philosophical parables. In the international competition there will be films from Argentina, India, Iran, Japan and France, and traditionally, it will also include a Russian film”, said Peter Shepotinnik. He remarked that the festival’s theme this year, “Indigenous Peoples of the World”, was in tune with what concerns the filmmakers. “Surprisingly, the trend for the small-numbered peoples culture emerged on its own accord. We got films made in national languages, developing the theme of identity. One of them was made in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, another one in Chechnya, and the third one in Altai. These films try to absorb the national culture,” he said.Gazprom Neft has been the “Spirit of Fire” general partner since 2007. In addition to supporting the film festival, the company gives an annual special award for the best Russian film in the category “For the Preservation of Cultural Traditions”. The Roscongress Foundation will be the festival’s communications partner.