Listapad Film Festival: Be a success and keep on improving

Motto of Listapad is  "What a variety of cinema!"

This year's festival is going to please public with numerous unique pictures This year's festival is going to please public with numerous unique pictures

The XXI Minsk International Film Festival Listapad will take place in the capital of Belarus from 7th to 14th November. 163 films from 47 countries will be represented to the public. Approximately half of the pictures will be included into the competition program.

As for the geography of the forum according to the Deputy Minister of Culture Irina Driga ‘Our festival claims to be a platform for the Commonwealth of Independent States countries. However if there are interesting pictures from other countries, they are welcome on the condition they correspond to the level of the festival.’

The Head of the feature film program and cinema critic Igor Sukmanov consistently abides by the chosen “geographical” logics ‘We focused on the post soviet territories. Twenty years ago we used to live together with those. However, today these very territories are less familiar to us than Hollywood.’


This year's festival is going to please the public with numerous unique pictures

This year’s festival is going to please public with numerous unique pictures


To “Moscow”, to “Moscow”, to “Moscow”!

The format of the present festival is announced to be a renewed one. Firstly, cinema Moscow (Moscva) will become the main platform for the festival this year. ‘From a status point of view the Palace of Republic is a great platform. Nevertheless it had a disadvantage. Due to the inaptitude of the big hall to show films with Dolby Digital sound from digital carriers there was just one stage at our disposal. Unfortunately, the small hall with appropriate equipment had fewer seats. In cinema Moscow a more compact one-hour ceremony will take place. Films I Won’t Be Back and Three Hearts will be the main actors of the opening ceremony,’ shared Irina Driga during a press-conference.

Concerning the famous red carpet Igor Sukmanov confessed ‘We also want a red carpet, we want a little bit of glamour.’ ‘However the history of all red carpets ensues from a very simple thing – industry,’ pointed out the program director of Minsk cinema forum. ‘As a matter of fact celebrities arrive in two cases. A) When they are paid big money. Figuratively speaking Listapad festival doesn’t dispose of huge financial flows which would let us buy celebrities and take them to the red carpet. B) Celebrities come for promoting movies in the places where major film markets are found and deals of the century take place. We don’t fit this parameter either.’

‘Yet we’ve got something that we call a dream that we live with and will continue living with,’ resumed the program director. ‘The point is to build up and strengthen up the festival internationally. In case it happens, a network of friends, acquaintances, film directors who love, know and respect Listapad will be gathered.’

Although this year negotiations with celebrities have been held and there’s a possibility that a well-known persona will pay a visit to the festival at its closing part. ‘We’ll be utterly happy if it happens.  If no – trust me, any large-scale festival in Eastern Europe has already shifted to another mode.  Everyone knows better than that: to be a success, to hold the festival in a good-quality manner, slightly different kind of investments should be made.  That’s why we invest into authors and invite film directors. For us they are the celebrities. To us they convey a much bigger value than the arrival of some beautiful Ornella Muti who would come and wave her hand – and what is next? From this point of view our festival will involve people who we can rightly take pride in and who are making the history of contemporary cinema.’

As far as the current updates are concerned, Belarusian cinema will also enter “the platform” of the festival. This year it will be for the first time estimated within a separate national competition. It will comprise 24 pictures: 10 documentaries, 7 animated films and 7 feature films. ‘This is the merit to our cinematographers. The fact that international jury will estimate the level of our national cinema is a momentous event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Belarusian cinema,’ emphasized Irina Driga. On the whole this year Belarus will be represented in the festival with 40 films.

In such a way the competition program of current Listopad presupposes six positions: the major feature film competition, feature film competition Youth On the Move, the major documentary competition, young documentary film competition (the competition of national schools of cinema), children and youth film competition Listapadzik and a national competition. Film screenings will be held in the cinemas Moscva, Centralny, Mir, Pioner, Pobeda, Dom kino and in the Museum of Belarusian Cinema History.


So diverse and so logical

This year the film screenings at the festival with the motto “What a variety of movies!” will include pictures for mainstream spectators as well as more intellectual filmstrips. ‘We wanted the festival to be more than a stream of fine films. We wanted you to discover a certain meaning in what you see. What is more we intended to make this cinematographic festival a logical one,’ pointed out Igor Sukmanov.

In such a way two Russian films were included into the feature film program. They are Film about Alekseev by Michael Segal and Fool by Yuri Bykov. These movies are two poles of Russian cinematography.  Michael Segal is sophisticated and ironic, oriented at general public, he tries to create art-mainstream. Yuri Bykov has a very rough, even poster approach to reality. These are the two faces of Russian cinema,’ noted Igor Sukmanov.

Two pictures were presented by Estonia. They are Free Range. Ballad About the World’s Approval and Cherry Tobacco. ‘Two contrasts are found here as well. Õunpuu works for hipster spectators and makes highly fashionable, beautiful and melodic films. Cherry Tobacco is a simpler picture. Yet it’s refined and delicate enough in telling about the life in Estonian province,’ says the cinema critic.

Georgian cinema is represented by two films – Blind Dates and Corn Island. According to Igor Sumakov Georgian cinema is now experiencing renaissance. ‘Both films are superb lyrical pictures,’ noted the program director of Listapad.

In his opinion the Balkan region with its Memorial to Michael Jackson and Such Are the Rules ‘not only work to uncover some social problems but also manage to tell stories and communicate with the audience on equal terms.’

It also won’t be fair to skip mentioning the presence of the Chinese filmstrip Dark Coal. Thin Ice which was awarded Golden Bear at Berlin International Film Festival.

Igor Sumakov confesses that it wasn’t easy to get the Ukrainian film Tribe which was tightly busy at various film forums. The film critic opinionates that this two-hour work with no word about the life at a specialized boarding school for the deaf is a triumph of the cinema language. The main part in the film was performed by young Belarusian Yana Novikova who is going to present the picture.

The festival and the competition program will be opened by Ilmar Raag’s movie I Won’t Be Back. It was made in coproduction (Russia – Estonia – Belarus – Kazakhstan – Finland). Three Hearts by French film director Benoit Jacquot (non-competing) will become the closing picture of the festival.

In regard to the jury of the current feature film competition, it was headed by Valery Todorovsky who in due time received Listapad audience award for the picture Country of the Deaf.


Exclusive passions

According to Igor Sukmanov in the competition Youth On the Move ‘we collect works made by not just beginning masters but masters who are guaranteed to get a place in the elite of the world’s cinematography.’ This is not cheap talk. The filmstrip Wonders with Monica Bellucci that was awarded the Gran Prix at the Cannes Film Festival this year is represented in this very competition. As for Emmanuelle Beart you can contemplate her in My Lady which another movie-participant of the young film competition.

However the genuine exclusives can be found at numerous non-competing screenings. In such a way the picture Kingdom Of Beauty (Master class program) will come to Minsk prior to the world rolling, right after the premier at Toronto Film Festival. The filmstrip Next time I’ll Be Aiming Right At Heart (program art-blockbuster) will arrive in Minsk after the film festival in Rome. According to Listapad program director this “sign of trust from European distributors” makes the organizers of Minsk forum really happy.

By the way, partially the festival program will be shown in cinema Centralny on November 7, 8 and 14 within the movie marathon “Midnight Passion”. The screenings will start at around midnight from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday. Three films will be rolled in a row with half an hour break in between.

The documentary film program will be various too. ‘The works differ greatly by genres,’ gives the characteristic of the competition program the head of the documentary film program Irina Demianova. ‘There are philosophical parables with refined picture as for instance the German film In the Mist. There are films dedicated to complicated social issues that are typical for post soviet countries that are experiencing uneasy times. For example,  Belgian-Romanian movie Anticipating August. There are very deep, complicated movies that touch upon ideological and political themes. Justice in Hungary is one of them. This unique film was being made for a few years. Actually it can be called a report from a court session. Although it was wholly filmed in a courtroom, it’s impossible to get your eyes off it.’

 The price of the ticket for Listapad opening and closing ceremonies will draw up 100,000 BYR. Screening sessions will cost up to 40,000 BYR. Documentary films can be seen at a cost of 15,000 BYR. Children films will only cost you 5,000 BYR. All in all it is diverse and affordable cinema.


About Anastasia Mezhevich (20 Articles)
Anastasia Mezhevich is a 3d year student of Minsk State Linguistic University majoring in intercultural communication. She speaks English, Spanish and Italian. Also she's an amateur photographer with particular passion for travelling and writing. She is currently based in Minsk, Belarus
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