Competition Programme Lineup of the Message to Man International Film Festival

The selection committee of the programme directorate for the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival is pleased to present the films included in the competition programme. In the National, International, and the In Silico Experimental Film Competitions, 63 films will be evaluated by the jury and the audience. Film screenings and other events of the Festival will take place at Saint Petersburg’s central venues: the Dom Kino film centre, LenDoc film studio, Aurora, Rodina, Lenfilm, Velikan Park cinemas, Dom Radio, on the stage and in the Media Library of the Alexandrinsky Theatre’s New Stage, as well as the Word Order bookshop.

“The release is an appeal without a recipient, a message to the city and the world, – that is, it doesn’t go anywhere in particular. Therefore, I would like to merely share the very specific plan the selection team had for the International Competition programme.

There are 33 films in the programme: 8 full-length films and 25 short films. It was a very exciting quest. The ultimate judge, of course, will be the audience, but we are ready to passionately defend our choices.

Our goal was to make the programme feel contemporary. We paid close attention to mixed forms, where digital experiences merge with existential ones, as in Khaled Abdulwahed’s ‘Background’, or where the non-fictional no longer clings strictly to its old promises of shrewd objectivity, as in Martín Benchimol’s ‘The Castle’, where the non-fictional comes dangerously and charmingly close to a fairy tale.

We sought films that stand on the side of humanity (as in Efthymia Zymvragaki’s ‘Light Falls Vertical’, where the director explores the most complex, poignant issues with a compassionate eye).

It was essential for us to include films that genuinely respond to the encounter with historical cataclysms, as in Vladimir Eisner’s ‘Twilight’, a documentary saga of Russian life over the past three decades.

In doing so, our aim was to constantly look toward the light and life. That is why we hope that many of the competition’s films will give the audience an injection of vitality, something particularly important today, as seen in Yorgos Gousis’s ‘Arm Wrestler’.

Lastly, we strived for the International Competition to be, despite everything, truly international, as we believe in the universality of art beyond divisive politics. In the showrooms and screenings of the International Competition, Europe will meet Russia, both Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. That’s the way it should be,” – Mikhail Ratgauz, chairman of the selection committee for the International Competition presents the programme.

The International Competition programme of the Message to Man Film Festival includes the following full-length documentary films:

  • Arm Wrestler, directed by Yorgos Gousis. Greece, 2022, 77 min
  • Background, directed by Khaled Abdulwahed. Germany, 2023, 64 min
  • Geographies Of Solitude, directed by Jacquelyn Mills. Canada, 2022, 103 min
  • Adieu Sauvage, directed by Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento. Belgium, France, 2023, 92 min
  • The Castle, directed by Martín Benchimol. Argentina, France. 2023, 78 min
  • Fragments from Heaven, directed by Adnane Baraka. Morocco, France, 2022, 84 min
  • Light Falls Vertical, directed by Efthymia Zymvragaki. Spain, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, 2022, 85 min
  • Twilight, directed by Vladimir Eisner. Russia, Germany, 2023, 77 min

Short documentary films in the International Competition of the Message to Man Film Festival:

  • Aqueronte, directed by Manuel Muñoz Rivas. Spain, 2023, 26 min
  • All the Days of May, directed by Miryam Charles. Canada, 2023, 6 min
  • Sonnenhof, directed by Tatjana Fanny. Switzerland, The Netherlands, 2023, 22 min
  • Scarce, directed by Gabriela Gaia Meirelles, Clara Anastácia. Brazil, 2022, 15 min
  • Patient, directed by Lori Felker. USA, 2023, 23 min
  • Planet D, directed by Olesya Rudyka. Russia, 2023, 14 min
  • Dentures, directed by Siddharth Potade, Nikhil Lama. India, 2023, 15 min
  • Fran and Verka; or a Usual Day in an Abandoned Village, directed by Sovran Nrecaj. Kosovo, 2023, 13 min

Short live-action films in the International Competition of the Message to Man Film Festival:

  • Will My Parents Come to See Me, directed by Mo Harawe, Austria, Germany, Somalia, 2022, 28 min
  • Maison Blanche, directed by Camille Dumortier. France, 2023, 27 min
  • Pledging the Sun, directed by Chrisanthos Margonis. Greece, 2022, 17 min
  • The Tree Without Leaves, directed by Roman Belov. Russia, 2023, 24 min
  • Kids of July, directed by Maria Chukalskaya. Russia, 2023, 20 min
  • Oil Oil Oil, directed by Manoel Dupont. Belgium, France, 2023, 24 min
  • A Bright Sunny Day, directed by He Yupeng. USA, 2023, 20 min
  • Collision, directed by Amirhossein Mohseni. Iran, 2023, 14 min
  • The Melting Creatures, directed by Diego Céspedes. Chile, France, 2022, 16 min
  • Human Nature, directed by Mónica Lima. Portugal, Germany, 2023, 25 min

Short animated films in the International Competition of the Message to Man Film Festival:

  • The Garbage Man, directed by Laura Gonçalves. Portugal, 2022, 12 min
  • Persona, directed by Moon Su-jin. Republic of Korea, 2022, 7 min
  • Ice Merchants, directed by João Gonzalez. Portugal, UK, France, 2022, 14 min
  • Sleep, My Dear, directed by Dusya Geller. Russia, 2023, 6 min
  • The Bitch, directed by Carla Melo Gampert. Colombia, France, 2023, 14 min
  • The Smile, directed by Erik van Schaaik. The Netherlands, 2022, 16 min
  • A Kind of Testament, directed by Stephen Vuillemin. France, 2023, 16 min

“When selecting films for the Messages to Man’s National Competition, we traditionally set ourselves the task of identifying the main trends of contemporary documentary cinema within the Russian-speaking sphere. One of the prominent themes currently explored by documentary filmmakers is memory, a journey into the past, delving into archives, both familial and governmental. ‘Mitrofan Aksyonov’s Sausage’ by Alexei Fedorchenko, a classic of Russian documentary and feature filmmaking, ‘Proposed Circumstances’ by Nikita Efimov, a chronicle of a ‘Sovremennik’ Theatre production, or Masha Chernaya’s documentary collage ‘To the Ladies Not Present Here!’, compiled from tapes of other people’s family chronicles found on the Internet, – all these diverse films engage with the past. Another prevalent theme is youth, a cinematic exploration of the future through the faces and actions of young protagonists. What lies ahead for the characters in ‘Artem & Eva’ by Evgeny Milykh, as they challenge societal norms, or the resilient heroine of ‘Polar Excursion’ by Sergei Masalsky, who has lost parental rights and works in a stoke room? The competition programme notably includes ‘Circus’ by Yana Reinson, which celebrates the Rostov based tent circus ‘Frankoni’, and ‘The Elk Calf’ by Elena Koptseva, a portrayal of an employee at the Sumarokovskaya elk farm, stand out in the. These films capture the proverbial here-and-now and offer poignant and powerful metaphors for the state of contemporary Russian society,” – say Konstantin Shavlovsky and Natalia Pylaeva, curators of the National Competition.

  • Ring Line 26, directed by Darya Odysheva. Russia, 2023, 20 min
  • Artem & Eva, directed by Evgeniy Milykh. France, Georgia, Estonia, 2023, 96 min
  • To the Ladies Not Present Here, directed by Masha Chernaya. Russia, 2023, 39 min
  • Polar Excursion, directed by Sergei Masalsky. Russia, 2023, 23 min
  • Mitrofan Aksyonov’s Sausage, directed by Alexei Fedorchenko. Russia, 2023, 61 min
  • Lenechka, directed by Renata Dzhalo. Russia, 2023, 52 min
  • The Elk Calf, directed by Elena Koptseva. Russia, 2023, 63 min
  • Mama America, directed by Anna Schweigolz. Russia, 2023, 6 min
  • Un_touched, directed by Elizaveta Verkhovenskaya. Russia, 2023, 24 min
  • Proposed Circumstances, directed by Nikita Efimov. Russia, 2023, 82 min
  • Death of Cinema, directed by Tikhon Pendyurin. Russia, Italy, 2023, 45 min
  • Strawberry Fields Forever, directed by Sergei Stroganov. Russia, 2023, 21 min
  • Circus, directed by Yana Reinson. Russia, 2023, 67 min
  • The Pit, directed by Liza Koro. Russia, 2023, 17 min

“The ‘lucky’ 13th edition of the In Silico experimental short film competition showcases 16 films hailing from 11 countries. As always, it is a vibrant selection of auteur out-of-genre works, prompting viewers to reflect on the essence of the cinematic screen, concepts of war and peace, loneliness, emigration, madness, hope, the irrational behavior of cells, and the beauty of wildflowers,” as described by Mikhail Zheleznikov, curator of the In Silico competition.

  • Exterior Day, directed by Giulia Magno. Italy, 2022, 8 min
  • Hold on for Dear Life, directed by Simone Fiorentino. Italy, 2023, 9 min
  • Dear Viewer, directed by Samir Radwan. Egypt, 2023, 5 min
  • How to Express It, directed by Aybe Carelin. France, 2023, 5 min
  • Multicellular, directed by Raya Shmatova. Russia, 2023, 8 min
  • О.A, directed by Yaroslav Kirichenko. Russia, 2023, 7 min
  • Ode to Loneliness, directed by Rawane Nassif. Lebanon, Qatar, Canada, 2022, 17 min
  • Wild Flowers, directed by Karla Crnčević, Croatia, Spain, 2022, 11 min
  • Empty Rooms, directed by Evgenia Kazankina. Russia, 2023, 6 min
  • Desert Dreaming, directed by Abdul Khaliq Aziz. Sri Lanka, 2023, 12 min
  • Reconstruction, directed by Igor Polikarpov. Russia, 2023, 11 min
  • A Companion for Amateur Cinematographers: Vol. I, directed by Federico Di Corato. Italy, 2023, 20 min
  • Super Dorothy – a Variety of Bengal rose, directed by Dasha Likhaya. Russia, 2023, 10 min
  • The Film You Are About to See, directed by Maxime Martinot. France, 2023, 11 min
  • Shanghai in the Spring, directed by Sun Xun. China, 2022, 11 min
  • Sliver Cave, directed by Caibei Cai, China, 2022, 14 min

In 2023, a total of 2019 applications from 82 countries were submitted for the Message to Man International Film Festival competition. Most submissions came from Russia, France, China, Iran, USA, Italy and India. Participants from Iraq, Spain, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, Canada, Tajikistan, Armenia, Belgium, Uzbekistan, Iran and other countries also submitted their works.

The winners of the 33rd Message to Man International Film Festival will be awarded in the following categories:

  • Golden Centaur Grand Prix with a prize of RUB 240,000 for Best Film: awarded by the international competition jury;
  • Three special Centaur prizes with a prize of RUB 80,000 each: awarded by the international competition jury;
  • Special Centaur prize with a prize of RUB 50,000 for Best Documentary Film of the National Competition: awarded by the national competition jury;
  • Jury’s special Centaur prize with a prize of RUB 30,000 (with explanatory wording for a film in the national competition): awarded by the national competition jury;
  • Centaur Prize of the Jury in the In Silico experimental film competition with a prize of RUB 80,000 for Best Experimental Film.

The Festival audience will have the opportunity to enjoy a diverse selection of films, not only those in competition but also exclusive out-of-competition programmes. Our dedicated curators have handpicked the most notable documentary and live-action premieres, along with fresh festival releases from various countries. In addition to screenings, the organizers are planning special screenings, unique programmes, filmmaker masterclasses, and industry roundtable discussions.

Accreditation is open for media, journalists and bloggers; applications can be submitted on the festival website until October 6, 2023:

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.

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