Spirit of fire


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Ugra - the territory of cinema 

Spirit of Fire 2024


debut film


Ugra is the center of the film industry

The region has become a place where there are all conditions for shooting feature films and great opportunities for film companies.

Since 2002, the International Film Debut Festival “Spirit of Fire” has been held annually in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk. The idea of ​​creating the show was proposed by director Sergei Solovyov, who was also its first president, and since 2022, the post of president has been transferred to Emir Kusturica. For more than 20 years, not only the festival itself, but the entire region has improved. And now it is obvious that the location of the large-scale film festival was not chosen by chance.

Personnel for creative industries

Today Ugra can rightfully be considered the center of the Russian film industry. There are not only unique locations and conditions for filming documentaries and feature films, short films and TV series. It was in Ugra that the country’s first school of creative industries began operating, created on the basis of the district folk art house in Khanty-Mansiysk. At its opening, the Governor of Ugra Natalya Komarova noted: “I consider this an extremely important direction. You and I were the first in Russia to formulate our own laws and ideas about creative industries.” Later, such schools opened in Surgut and the Beloyarsky district. Here they study such disciplines as “Modern electronic music”, “Animation and 3D graphics”, “Photo and video production”, “Design”.

The course of study lasts two years. You can get a specialty for working in the film industry at the College of Creative Industries of Ugra, where there are areas of film and television and radio broadcasting, 3D design and augmented reality creation. 

By ensuring the training of high-quality personnel, the region follows the tactics of large international film hubs, offering a turnkey filming process: to work on a project, it is enough to bring a small film crew to such a hub, and the necessary specialists in lighting, editing and special effects creation will already be waiting on site. 

Powerful cultural code

Unique cultural features are the strength of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, which also has a beneficial effect on the development of the creative cluster. The ethno-cultural code is in demand in all areas - fashion, music, design, and urban planning. Deputy Governor of Ugra Elena Shumakova emphasized at EEF 2023 that all these components are being developed in the region. She also noted that companies are interested in retaining and attracting young creative personnel to Ugra, and for this a high-quality environment for self-realization must be created.  
One of the largest projects in the field of creative industries of Ugra is the International Festival of Film Debuts “Spirit of Fire”.

International cooperation

The Spirit of Fire Film Debut Festival brings together representatives of the film industry from around the world. In recent years, the festival has gained significant support for the promotion of ethno-cinema in Russia and in the world. In 2023, India became the guest country of the film festival, and the result of the interaction was joint film production. In 2024, the festival will host the business program “The Special Language of National Cinematography of the BRICS Countries.” Representatives of the film industry from Russia, India, the UAE, Egypt, Iran, South Africa and other countries will discuss the prospects for joint film production, cultural and educational exchange programs, and the development of national film distribution.

Academy "Spirit of Fire"

The international festival of film debuts “Spirit of Fire” has existed for more than 20 years, and in recent years it has entered a new stage of its development - rebranding took place, interregional and international cooperation expanded, and new partners appeared. In 2023, the government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug decided to operate the festival in a permanent, daily format - for this purpose, an autonomous non-profit organization “Spirit of Fire Academy” was created in Ugra. “We expect that this new platform will ensure the implementation of activities to promote debut films, festival winning films, improve the competencies of film specialists, and conduct summer film schools for students from creative industries schools, students, and young filmmakers,” noted the head of the region, Natalya Komarova, and drew attention to that its communication partner, the Roscongress Foundation, played a major role in organizing the festival.

Unique locations

Many films have been shot on the territory of Ugra, both Russian and foreign. Among them, for example, is the acclaimed film “Liberia: Treasure Hunters” directed by Gleb Orlov. Most recently, the finalists of the ArtMasters Regions championship finished filming the short film “Mistress of the Mountain.” And last spring in Khanty-Mansiysk, the famous Indian director Gajendra Ahire began filming a film under the working title “Snow Flower”. “The magnificent views of Khanty-Mansiysk, the presence of a production base and the unconditional support of the district played in our favor,” says Alexey Elizarov, director of OTRK Yugra, about the Snow Flower project. The Spirit of Fire Film Festival is also an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in filming films in Ugra to explore possible locations.

Economic Opportunities

Producers of films shot in the region can return part of the money spent - up to 30 million rubles. Film companies can rent production facilities. Grants are provided for individuals and legal entities for projects in the field of creative industries, including cinema. “We are really pleased to welcome film companies to Ugra,” emphasized Margarita Kozlova, director of the Ugra Department of Culture. — Increasingly, film companies are asking for material and technical bases, and such a base operates in Ugra. We support film companies that are ready to come, take advantage of these facilities and film here using our equipment.” In addition, a film commission has been created in Ugra based on the “one-window” principle, which provides support work for film companies from the selection of actors and contractors to the resolution of administrative issues, that is, the filming process can be organized literally “turnkey”.  

The international festival of film debuts “Spirit of Fire” has been held in Ugra since 2002. It is aimed at finding and supporting young talented filmmakers, increasing the role of Russian cinema in the development of international cultural relations in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug.


Khanty-Mansiysk is a modern, beautiful city, the capital of Russia’s largest oil and gas producing region, which is located almost at the latitude of St. Petersburg, and if you look at the map, it is located in the very center of Russia. The unique geographical position has made Khanty-Mansiysk a venue for major political, economic and cultural events.

Over the past 20 years, the face of Khanty-Mansiysk has changed dramatically - unexpected architectural ensembles, fountains and lighting design have made it a real pearl of Siberia. Residents of Khanty-Mansiysk are proud of their city and carefully preserve its history, which is more than 430 years old.

Khanty-Mansiysk time is multi-layered. The city exists in two dimensions at once: on one street there are buildings of the 21st century that are unique in their architecture and wooden houses from the early-mid 20th century.

In the city center there are no buildings higher than 6 floors; individual 12-14-story buildings are located only on the outskirts. There are two parks here - Victory Park with a memorial and Boris Losev Park with a composition of fountains, crowned by the fountain “Confluence of the Ob and Irtysh”. In addition, the park has a gazebo and a pond with a bridge, on the forged railings of which newlyweds traditionally seal their union with a symbolic lock.

Khanty-Mansiysk goes around the Irtysh on the southern and western sides. This great river has powerful energy that invisibly influences the characters of the people living along its banks and the rhythms of the city they created. Since ancient times, people inhabiting the picturesque shores have treated the Irtysh with respect and love, worshiped it and made up legends. In winter, the Irtysh freezes to a depth of several meters. In the spring, when the river opens up, townspeople come to watch the ice drift. 

The bridge across the Irtysh, built in 2004, received the unofficial name Red Dragon and became a symbol of the era of accelerated development of Khanty-Mansiysk. The 1315-meter-long bridge connected the banks of the river and gave the city access to the western part of the Autonomous Okrug and the center of Russia. Today it is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the capital of Ugra. 

The nature of Khanty-Mansiysk cannot but amaze. The Samarovsky Chugas natural park is located directly on the territory of the city. This untouched corner of the Siberian taiga with centuries-old cedars and spruces in the center of the capital city, which opens up additional opportunities for the development of tourism to Khanty-Mansiysk. Despite the abundance of greenery in the city, many flowers are planted here every summer. They decorate the streets from early spring until late autumn. 

Khanty-Mansiysk loves sports: two ice palaces, a ski slope, the leading biathlon center in Russia, a tennis center, swimming pools, and a water park have been built. Culture has not been forgotten either: the city has 4 museums, 3 theaters, 42 monuments. At the same time, the most visited place in the city is considered to be the cultural and tourist complex Archeopark with sculptures of mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, cave bears, cave lions, big-horned deer, primitive bison, ancient horses, and wolves located on its territory.

Khanty-Mansiysk is a green, clean city with excellent quality roads. They have two or three lanes, looped around the perimeter of the city; in 15 minutes by car you can get from one end of the city to the other. Impressive transport interchanges, overpasses, and underground passages have been built here, where advertisements for cultural events are posted and photo exhibitions are held.

In the field of housing construction, Khanty-Mansiysk has its own special style, unique architectural and planning style. New residential areas are linked with roads, sites and amenities into a single complex.
Modern shopping and entertainment centers have become a real decoration of urban architecture. They are distinguished by their complex configuration, abundance of glass elements, color variety and functionality.
Just recently, 8-10 years ago, life in Khanty-Mansiysk came to a complete standstill after 20:00. Nowadays, traffic along the central streets does not stop even at night; at the main intersections there are groups of taxis until the morning.

Restaurants serving Russian and European cuisine are open to visitors at night, as well as nightclubs and bars.

The best time to walk in Khanty-Mansiysk is at night. Just walk around, admiring the illuminated buildings of non-standard architecture, streets and squares flooded with street lamps.

During the day you can go on excursions around the city, visit local museums, ride horses, and in winter you can also ride a reindeer sleigh. Sleighs and sledges are waiting for everyone on the Central Square, as well as on the territory of the Yugorskaya Dolina hotel. By the way, here you can also visit the sauna courtyard with an open-air swimming pool, which functions even in the most severe frosts.

Special ceremonies are organized for guests of Khanty-Mansiysk - initiation into Siberians, the participants of which will certainly be offered to taste stroganin made from raw elk or deer meat, and national bread.

For lovers of active recreation, there are ski and downhill ski slopes. From the snowy mountain you can go tubing or “cheesecakes”, as the locals call them.
For those who cannot imagine their life without sports, there are swimming pools, gyms, and fitness clubs.

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