National Competition Programme: XXXI Message to Man International Film Festival

As before, the Festival’s National Competition maps new territories of documentary filmmaking in Russia. Full-length, medium- and short-length films are represented in the programme on equal terms; among them two Russian premieres and nine world premieres. In 2021, screenings of the National Competition will be held at the Lenfilm Cinema Centre.

“The central theme of this year’s competition programme is that the Russian reality of the new twenties does not appeal to direct expression. This is probably typical not only for the Russian context, where the border between a witness and an accomplice becomes dangerously blurred, but also for the overall structure of the modern media environment, in which falsification is indistinguishable from evidence, but is much simpler and cheaper to make. The more often a ‘direct utterance’ or its imitation becomes a weapon in media wars, the less it can describe reality, and the farther the real authors tend to get away from it. This is probably the reason why there are more essay films in the competition than ever before; these are films with a weakened narrative (Why Dreams by The Manifest Association, 91 by Dina Karaman), and there are no films in which the authors would stand over viewers leading them to certain conclusions. Several films on the programme deal not with ‘reality’ itself, but with its reflections in avant-garde art (Theory of New Genius by Taisiya Krugovykh, Narodnaya by Vadim Kostrov). This is a search for a new language not so much to describe the everyday as an attempt to stand on tiptoe and see a utopian horizon behind the low and heavy clouds of lead reaction. The other part of the competition programme is closer to traditional documentary filmmaking, but even there one can see the search for a shift that defies reality, presenting it not head-on (Nadia Zakharova’s Promende, Daria Slyusarenko’s Joy). Recoding reality, getting out of the cage of the present into an unknown future; not even the getaway itself, but a current of air formed by a slightly open door (The Berry Hunter by Ilya Zheltyakov, Cages by Dmitry Lukyanov) is another and probably the most important theme of the Message to Man 2021 National Competition,” explain the curators of the National Competition Konstantin Shavlovsky and Natalia Pylaeva.

18 films were selected out of 500 applications for the National Competition Programme:

  • 27А, dir. Darya Likhaya, 17 min., Russia, 2021
  • 91, dir. Dina Karaman, 26 min., Russia, 2021
  • About you, dir. Renata Dzhalo, 36 min., Russia, 2021
  • Long Shot, dir. Vladimir Golovnev, 67 min., Russia, 2021
  • Joy, dir. Darya Slyusarenko, 63 min., Russia, 2020
  • Home, dir. Igor Gladkov, 37 min., Russia, 2021
  • The Fence, dir. Maria Kogan-Lerner, 8 min., Russia, 2020
  • Why Dreams, The Manifest Association, 65 min., Russia, 2021
  • Cells, dir, Dmitry Lukyanov, 57 min., Russia, 2021
  • The Unknown Land of the North, dir. Ayaal Adamov, 15 min., Russia, 2021
  • OK Good, Pinega, dir. Yulia Kurmangalina, Sasha Kulak, 23 min., Russia, Germany, 2021
  • A Boy, dir. Vitaly Akimov, 53 min., Russia, 2020
  • We Will Be Together, dir. Serafima Truevtseva, 4 min., Russia, 2021
  • Narodnaya, dir. Vadim Kostrov, 90 min., Russia, 2021
  • Promenade, dir. Nadya Zakharova, 45 min., Russia, 2021
  • The Theory of New Genius, dir. Taisiya Krugovykh, 50 min., Russia, 2021
  • Do You Believe in God?, dir. Grigory Muzurov, 17 min., Russia, 2021
  • The Berry Hunter, dir. Ilya Zheltyakov, 57 min., Russia, 2021