Industry Day at the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival and Special Screenings of Documentary Projects from Online Cinemas

‘Non-fiction Cinema and TV Series Production in Collaboration with Russian Streaming Platforms’: Industry Day at the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival and Special Screenings of Documentary Projects from Online Cinemas.


On October 24, as part of the 33rd Message to Man IFF, the Media Centre of the Alexandrinsky Theatre’s New Stage will host an Industry Day dedicated to the production of non-fiction films and TV series in collaboration with Russian streaming platforms. The day’s programme from 12:30 to 18:00 will feature premieres of non-fiction projects from online platforms, each presented by their creators. Following the screenings, a roundtable discussion will take place, where top executives from streaming platforms and authors of non-fiction films and series presented in the Industry Day programme will discuss the content presented and delve into the phenomenon of original documentary content in present-day online cinemas.

Speakers of the roundtable discussion ‘Non-fiction Cinema and TV Series Production in Collaboration with Russian Streaming Platforms’: Gavriil Gordeev, Svetlana Sonina (Okko); Makar Kozhukhov (Premier); Angelina Ashman (Kion); Alexei Bokov (Start); Natalia Akulova (Ivi); Anton Volodkin, Alexei Kiselev (Studio Videoprokat); Tatiana Matveeva (Institute for Internet Development).

The programme and the roundtable are curated by film columnist Susanna Alperina.

“For streaming platforms, documentary cinema represents a distinct genre that blends elements of both TV documentaries and auteur films. These films are crafted to capture viewers’ heightened attention, guided by the principle: ‘You’ve never seen anything like this before, and you won’t find it anywhere else.’

Online cinemas strive to offer the hottest topics. While original documentary content does not garner the same level of fame and profit as TV series, several trends and topics in non-fiction cinema have shown potential for streaming success. Audiences have demonstrated a strong interest in films and series about the making of popular live-action projects. These are essentially ‘films about films.’ Many viewers are intrigued to sneak behind the scenes of their favorite movie or TV series, as it allows them to stay connected with the characters and atmosphere for longer. Viewers also respond positively to subjects such as history, music, sports, and real-life biographies. Personal stories are consistently high on their list of interests,” says Susanna Alperina, curator of the programme and roundtable discussion.

Projects that will premiere during this year’s Industry Day at Message to Man:

“Games and People”, directed by Yuri Odnopozov, 2023, 46 min. Premier online cinema. The project was created with the support of the Internet Development Institute.

The historical documentary delves into the Olympic Games as a whole, with a particular focus on the achievements of Russian athletes. The history of the country is largely reflected in the history of sports, and the creators of this docuseries have taken this principle as the foundation for the project.

“The Sound That Discovered Me”, directed by Oganes Eknosyan, 2023, 17 min. Okko online cinema.

The short documentary film was created by the Zvuk HiFi-streaming service and the STUDIO application for artists and their teams, in collaboration with Okko online cinema. The film explores the early creative journeys of three artists: Erika Lundmoen, and the bands Settlers and Margosha. The characters share personal stories about their musical beginnings, as well as the sound that sparked their creativity. Zvuk and STUDIO aim to spotlight young artists and inspire those who are making their first steps in music.

“With a Thin Thread”, directed by Sofya Gorlenko, Russia, 36 min. Okko online cinema.

This film, blending documentary and live-action elements, comprises five short stories and explores experimental terrain where fiction, documentary, and improvisation converge. It engages locals from five authentic regions of Russia. Five protagonists – designers, fashion enthusiasts and artists – set out on a journey of reflection and rethinking of the fading traditional cultures, participating in curious rituals, and witnessing the vanishing way of life. The total runtime of the film is 108 minutes. As part of the Industry Day at Message to Man, one of the novellas will be screened.

“The Right to Shoot”, directed by Rodion Chepel, Russia, 2023, 67 min. Kion online cinema.

A new investigative journalism film by Rodion Chepel, which objectively and meticulously examines the perspectives of individuals who have somehow encountered the use of firearms in their daily lives. The picture is no less captivating and thought-provoking as the author’s previous works. The presence of well-known figures such as Grigory Tumanov and Pavel Gusev adds to its uniqueness.

“How I Met My Mother”, directed by Atan Agrba and Nina Gomiashvili, 2023, 45 min. Wink online cinema. The project was created with the support of the Internet Development Institute.

A personal and touching story of a mother-son relationship. She is a well-known journalist and TV presenter Maria Shakhova. He is a young and ambitious producer and showrunner Alexey Kiselev, who has already made a name for himself with high-profile projects. Accompanied by Alexander Radaev, who runs the popular Telegram channel “Parnassus Mockingbird”, Maria Shakhova embarks on a journey across Russia at the request of her producer son. It is not without challenges, but the audience finds it very intriguing to witness the complexities of relationships between close, loving individuals and how something new is discovered through their communication.

Additionally, special screenings of original documentary projects from streaming services will also take place at the Message to Man Festival:

“The Architect: The Story of Alexei German and His Films”, 2023, 66 min. Start online cinema.

The film created by the director’s family and colleagues will undoubtedly be a significant event, particularly considering that the premiere will take place at Lenfilm, the studio where Alexei German Sr. worked. The documentary incorporates parts of the master’s film “Hard to Be a God”, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. The presentation of the film hosted by director’s son, Alexei German Jr., production designer Elena Okopnaya, and producer Alexei Bokov will take place after the screening.

“Cinema 3.0”, directed by Nikita Kartsev and Lana Druzhinina. 3 episodes of 55 min. Premier online cinema.

On October 24, for the first time at the festival and on the big screen of the Rodina cinema, all three episodes of the project will be showcased. This project has garnered significant attention, particularly because the filmmakers, who represent the latest Russian film history, are well-known to many. The project will be presented by author and director Nikita Kartsev.

“The Big Fight”, directed by Mikhail Dvorzhetsky, 2023, 2 episodes of 37 min. Wink online cinema. The project was created with the support of the Internet Development Institute.

The documentary series about MMA fighters, whose two episodes will be screened at Dom Kino Cinema Center. This topic has not been previously explored in Russia. The initial episodes of “The Big Fight” served an educational purpose, introducing MMA to a broad audience. However, as the series progresses and approaches its conclusion, it awakens a fighting spirit in each viewer. Audiences gain insight into what the characters of the series endure and why they chose this way of life. Prominent figures recognized not only by fans but by a wide-ranging audience, such as Oleg Taktarov, Fedor Emelianenko, and others, provide a backstage pass to “the most secretive sport in the world.”

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Ilim Group proudly serves as the General Sponsor of the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival.

Ilim Group is a leader in the Russian pulp and paper industry and a prominent player on the global stage. With 17,000 employees across seven regions, it ranks among the world’s top 7 producers of bleached softwood pulp and stands as the No. 1 producer of pure-cellulose corrugated materials in the PRC. In 2022, its annual finished product output reached 3.63 million tons, with plans to increase to 4.2-4.3 million tons by 2024. In Russia, the company holds a 77% market share in market pulp, 16% in packaging materials, and 25% in white papers.

Ilim Group’s strategic focus extends beyond the key markets of Russia and China to the Middle East, India, Africa, and Latin America. In 2022, the company dedicated RUB 9.86 billion to environmental initiatives and allocated RUB 674 million to charitable and social projects.

Administration of the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival

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Yulia Fetisova, PR-director of the Festival
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Message to Man is an international festival of documentary, short live-action, animated and experimental films, founded in 1989 in Leningrad by director Mikhail Litvyakov, who currently serves as the Honorary President of the film festival. In 2010, Alexei Uchitel, a renowned director of documentaries and feature films and People’s Artist of Russia, assumed the role of President of the Festival.

At the heart of the festival’s programme are three competitions. Every year, the selection committee receives over 3,000 applications from all continents and hundreds of countries around the globe. More than 100 films participate in the competition and out-of-competition programmes. Full-length documentaries, short documentaries, feature films, and animation films compete on equal terms for the Grand Prix of the international competition.

Over its 33-year history, the festival has been visited by prominent filmmakers as members of the jury, guests, and participants: Paolo Sorrentino, Werner Herzog, Tonino Guerra, Viktor Kossakovsky, Garri Bardin, Volker Schlöndorff, Agnès Varda, Godfrey Reggio, Emir Kusturica, Gerrit van Dijk, Abdellatif Kechiche, Bill Plympton, Alan Berliner, Niko von Glasow, Helena Trestíková, and many others.