Competition Programme of the XXX International Film Festival MESSAGE TO MAN

Jury and the audience will see 73 competing films, 32 Russian and 15 world premières.

XXX International Film Festival Message to Man that will take place from November 3 to 8 in St. Petersburg, announced its competition programmes. Jury and the audience will see 73 films in three competition programmes of the Festival: International, National and In Silico Experimental competitions.
This year, Message to Man will mainly be hosted by Dom Kino and Rodina, the cinemas where the Festival was born 30 years ago. To many locals, the bronze Centaur (a work by Dimitry Pakhomov based on a drawing by a young artist Nadia Rusheva) that welcomes the audience at the entrance to these cinemas is a familiar sight. Nadia Rusheva’s Centaur is the symbol of Message to Man and the Festival’s main prize.

We are glad to be able to return home to those sites in the heart of St. Petersburg where the Festival was born, and we believe that the ‘old walls’ that remember the rich festival history will even better stimulate the discovery of new and important works of modern cinema,said the President of the Festival Alexey Uchitel.

Despite the difficult global situation, directors have been actively making documentary films. This year, International Competition includes 38 films from 22 countries. Among them there are both full-length documentary films and short films of different genres (documentary, animated, fiction). The jury selects a winner in each of the four competitions, while the Grand Prix of the Festival can go to any film, for example, to an animated short.

Talking about the core of the Festival, its competition programmes, Alexey Medvedev, Programme Director of Message to Man, notes: “The main trend in 2020 is that the vast majority of the films we selected for the long list are by women. And they are not about some specific women’s issue or a special female perspective. It just seems that more than one generation of talented women-filmmakers came into the profession and finally got the opportunity to express themselves and, on equal terms, even with some advantage, to compete with men in such a genre as auteur documentary film.

Several films at once tell about the worlds inaccessible to an ordinary person. These are Radu Ciorniciuc’s Romanian film Akasa, My Home about the life of a closed gypsy community, Valentina Pedicini’s Italian work Faith about a mysterious cult that is still trying to save the world through strange rituals.

In her film The Kiosk, Alexandra Pianelli from France tells how several generations of women from the same family keep a press kiosk from a completely new perspective. Despite the mundane nature of the topic, the director managed to examine their lives closely and show the viewer many details from an unusual angle.

A powerful example of the use of an interesting form is the film by the German director Luisa Bäde, As long As You Still Have Arms, where the protagonist tells his life story with puppets.

Now then,  Full-Length Documentary Films are:

  • Akasa, My Home, dir. Radu Ciorniciuc, 86 min., Romania, Germany, Finland, 2020
  • As Long As You Still Have Arms, dir. Luisa Bäde, 92 min., Germany, 2019
  • Faith, dir. Valentina Pedicini, 94 min., Italy, 2019
  • La Mami, dir. Laura Herrero Garvín, 82 min., Mexico, Spain, 2019
  • The Legend of Siegfried, dir. Svetlana Strelnikova, 75 min., Russia, 2020
  • Petit Samedi, dir. Paloma Sermon-Daï, 75 min., Belgium, 2020
  • Sonny, dir. Pawel Chorzepa, 40 min., Poland, 2019
  • The Kiosk, dir. Alexandra Pianelli, 78 min., France, 2020

Short Documentary Films include:

  • Brothers – A Family Film, dir. Valentin Merz Tanören, 17 min., Switzerland, 2020
  • Clebs, dir. Halima Ouardiri, 18 min., Canada, Morocco, 2019
  • Huntsville Station, dir. Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone, 14 min, USA, 2020
  • I Have Nothing To Add, dir. Tatiana Stefanenko, 11 min., Russia, 2020
  • Invisible Hero, dir. Cristèle Alves Meira, 28 min., France, Portugal, 2019
  • La Espera, dir. Danilo Do Carmo, Jakob Krese, 14 min., Germany, 2020
  • Maalbeek, dir. Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, 15 min., France, 2020
  • Shānzhài Screens, dir. Paul Heintz, 23 min., France, 2020
  • Terraria, dir. Hanna Hovitie, 17 min., Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, 2019
  • The Fantastic, dir. Maija Blåfield, 30 min., Finland, 2020
  • This Means More, dir. Nicolas Gourault, 22 min., France, 2019

Short Animated Films:

  • Anna, Cat-And-Mouse, dir. Varya Yakovleva, 5 min., Russia, 2020
  • Daughter, dir. Daria Kashcheeva, 15 min., Czech Republic, 2019
  • Drage, Rope and Acorn, dir. Alina Titorenko, 6 min., Russia, 2020
  • Ecorce, dir. Samuel Patthey, Silvain Monney, 15 min., Switzerland, 2020
  • Hello, Are We In The Show?, dir. Simona Denicolai, 12 min., Belgium, 2019
  • Just a Guy, dir. Shoko Hara, 15 min., Germany, 2020
  • Lursaguak. Scenes From Life, dir. Izibene Oñederra, 12 min., Spain, 2019
  • Sogni Al Campo, dir. Mara Cerri, Magda Guidi, 9 min., France, Italy, 2020
  • Umbilical, dir. Danski Tang, 7 min., USA, 2019

Short Fiction Films:

  • As Lost As Convinced, dir. Mariana Sanguinetti, 11 min., Argentina, 2020
  • Bella, dir. Thelyia Petraki, 24 min., Greece, 2020
  • Boring Life, dir. Yunchong Duan, 21 min., China, 2019
  • Community Gardens, dir. Vytautas Katkus, 15 min., Lithuania, 2019
  • Dark Flow, dir. Loan Calmon, 21 min., France, 2019
  • Nina, dir. Hristo Simeonov, 19 min., Bulgaria, 2019
  • November, dir. Camille de Leu, 20 min., Belgium, 2020
  • Stephanie, dir. Leonardo van Dijl, 15 min., Belgium, 2020
  • Sunshine In Our Hands, dir. Yuriy Kropachev, 20 min., Russia, 2019
  • The Unseen River, dir. Phạm Ngọc Lân, 23 min., Vietnam, Laos, 2020

National Competition equally presents both débuts and films by already known and experienced authors, one Russian première, right after being screened at the festival in Leipzig, and 9 world premières: the films will be shown for the first time. Students from leading universities and film schools, both Russian and international, participate in the competition.

Different language, direction of focus, sense of context, way of formulating the meaningful of today: all this paints a rich picture of our world. For example, the competition will feature the première of Olga Privolnova’s film It’s Not Going to Hurt about the life of children with cancer. This is a long-awaited, complex and important film that she has been making for several years. Or Tatiana Chistova’s film Bless you!, shot in St Petersburg in the midst of the COVID lockdown. Or Zakura by Ivan Vdovin: a touching story of a girl living in a Bedouin family on the border between Palestine and Israel,says the curator of the National Competition Evgeniya Marchenko.

Out of almost 500 applications, 16 films were selected for the National Competition:

  • After the Tide, dir. Anna Zalevskaya, 39 min., Russia, 2020
  • Bless you!, dir. Tatiana Chistova, 30 min., Russia/Poland, 2020
  • Blue Rose, dir. Olga Korsun, 50 min., Russia, 2020
  • Cinema of The Era of Change, dir. Alexey Fedorchenko, 61 min., 2019
  • Dying like flies in the nineties, dir. Elizaveta Snagovskaya, 24 min., Russia/Germany, 2020
  • Froth, dir. Ilya Povolotsky, 85 min., Russia, 2019
  • Hey Teachers, dir. Yulia Vishnevetskaya, 89 min., Russia, 2020
  • It’s Not Going To Hurt, dir. Olga Privolnova, 80 min., Russia, 2020
  • Leningraders, dir. Nikita Yefimov, 9 min., Russia, 2020
  • Master of the pond, dir. Sofia Kulakova, 30 min., Russia, 2020
  • One Step Forward, One Step Back, dir. Agnia Galdanova, 62 min., Russia, 2020
  • Restless Nastya, dir. Sofya Meledina, 21 min., Russia, 2019
  • Secondary World, dir. Alexandra Pustynnova, 92 min., Russia, 2020
  • Stand-up is pain, dir. Sabrina Karabayeva, 49 min., Russia, 2020
  • The Golden Buttons, dir. Alexey Yevstigneyev, 20 min., Russia, 2020
  • Zakura, dir. Ivan Vdovin, 71 min., Russia/France, 2020

In Silico Experimental Short Film Competition will feature 19 films from 13 countries, 16 of them premières. Among the Russian authors are Nikita Spiridonov, Maxim Eruzhenets, Marina Kirakosyan and the two-time Festival participant from Yekaterinburg Masha Sedyaeva.

Independent authors have been responsive to global changes. The programme presents two films shot during the lockdown. In his new film Housebound, the director Jens Pecho, whom the audience already knows, asks himself whether he is creating something real or whether, lacking new impressions, he unwittingly repeats and copies what has already been done before him. “The real doesn’t exist,” as if echoing him, says a voice from the cinema screen in Eneos Charka’s film The First Few Moments Of The First Of January.

Films made earlier also support this topic. In Eliott Shabanis’ Carriere De Pissy, the workers are forever imprisoned in a granite pit and can only leave it as images recorded on video. And esteemed cinematographer Ryszard Lenczewski in his My Sleepless Darkness with his camera brings to light from the darkness the forgotten moments of the past: a visionary illustration of what we are experiencing now.

The programme’s leitmotif is not a passive observation of what is happening, but a reassessment of past experience and a search for new benchmarks. And in the present context, the themes chosen by the artists for reflection suddenly turn into their opposites: isolation becomes an anticipation of freedom, despair becomes hope, and the impossibility of contact becomes a promise of a meeting,” shared the curator of the competition Mikhail Zheleznikov.

In Silico Experimental Short Films Competition presents:

  • Alice’s Four Stories, dir. Myriam Jacob-Allard, 6 min., Canada, 2019
  • Apparition, dir. Ismaïl Bahri, 3 min., France, 2019
  • Average Happiness, dir. Maja Gehrig, 7 min., Switzerland, 2019
  • Billy, dir. Zachary Epcar, 8 min., USA, 2019
  • Bittersweet, dir. Sohrab Hura, 14 min., India, 2019
  • Carriere De Pissy, dir. Eliott Chabanis, 13 min., France, Burkina Faso, 2019
  • House Pieces, Christine Lucy Latimer, 3 min., Canada, 2019
  • Housebound, dir. Jens Pecho, 5 min., Germany, 2020
  • I can’t, dir. Lori Felker, 5 min., USA, 2019
  • Immortal Jellyfish, dir. Maria Sedyaeva, 9 min., Russia, 2019
  • My Sleepless Darkness, dir. Ryszard Lenczewski, 8 min., Northern Mariana Islands, 2019
  • Of Spacious Time, dir. Edith Flückiger, 11 min., Switzerland, 2019
  • Progress And Age, dir. Gabriel Tempea, 3 min., Austria, 2019
  • The Execution, dir. Jeroen Van der Stock, 15 min., Japan, 2019
  • The First Few Moments Of The First Of January, dir. Eneos Çarka, 13 min., Czech Republic, 2020
  • The Universe According To Dan Buckley, dir. Roberto Santaguida, 10 min., Canada, 2019
  • Volga Song, dir. Nikita Spiridonov, 7 min., Russia, 2020
  • Waltz, dir. Maxim Eruzhenets, Marina Kirakosyan, 11 min., Russia, 2019
  • Zombies, dir. Baloji, 14 min., Belgium, 2019

In 2020, 2,837 applications from 98 countries were submitted to the IFF Message to Man competition. Most of applications came from Russia, France, Spain, Germany and the United States. Participants also sent their works from New Guinea, Macao, Luxembourg, Bahrain, Ecuador, Congo and Burkina Faso.

The 2020 IFF Message to Man programme was compiled by the Programme Director of the Festival Alexey Medvedev and members of the Selection Committee of the International Competition Mikhail Zheleznikov, Alyona Koroleva and Evgeniya Marchenko. Curator of the In Silico competition is Mikhail Zheleznikov. Curators of the National Competition are Konstantin Shavlovsky and Evgeniya Marchenko.

This year, the winners of the International Film Festival will receive the Golden Centaur Grand Prix Prize and USD 3,000 for the best film, the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best full-length documentary film, the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best short documentary film, the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best short feature film, the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best animated film and the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best début. Participants will also compete for the Centaur Prize and RUB 50,000 for the best film in the national competition and the Jury Centaur Prize and RUB 30,000 (with a special dedication). Winners of the IN SILICO experimental international competition will receive the Centaur Prize and USD 1,000 for the best experimental film.

Beside the competition, there will be special screenings, special programmes and workshops by filmmakers. These will take place not only in Dom Kino and Rodina, but also in the Aurora cinema, the Lendoc open studio, Poryadok Slov bookstore and other cultural sites of St. Petersburg.

Festival programme


Competition and Special Programmes


Festival Archive