New Out-of-competition Programmes of the Message to Man International Film Festival 

The Message to Man International Film Festival, which will take place in St. Petersburg from October 20 to October 28, 2023, unveils its new out-of-competition programmes. The Festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture, the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives and the Committee for Culture of Saint Petersburg.

This year’s out-of-competition programme turned out to be particularly diverse. It features documentary films in the Panorama.doc section by Alexei Medvedev and Natalia Pylaeva, festival hits in the Superreal Cinema section by Andrei Plakhov, short and medium-length films in the Multiverse programme, a selection of animated films We’ll Draw It, We’ll Live It!, a showcase of works by young Russian directors in the Russian Youth. Present Continuous programme, and films created by students from the Russian State University of Cinematography and the Saint Petersburg State University of Film and Television.

“The Panorama.doc programme was conceived as a cross-section of contemporary documentary filmmaking. It seeks to capture the subtle shifts and changes occurring in this cinematic genre and to hear what today’s creators are speaking about. This year’s programme includes works that participated and earned recognition at the Cannes Film Festival, Cinéma du Réel, IDFA, and the Karlovy Vary Festival”, says Natalia Pylaeva, co-curator of the Panorama.doc programme.

  • Confessions of a Good Samaritan, directed by Penny Lane. USA, 2023, 105 min
  • Paradise, directed by Alexander Abaturov. France, Switzerland, 2022, 88 min
  • Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano, directed by Cyril Aris. Lebanon, Germany, 2023, 87 min
  • The Prisoner of Wakhan, directed by Janil Jusupjan. Kyrgyzstan, France, 2023, 110 min
  • Michael Douglas, the Child Prodigy, directed by Amine Mestari. France, 2023, 52 min

The Superreal Cinema programme, curated by film expert Andrei Plakhov, presents this year’s most interesting films, further enriching the intellectual landscape, with documentary cinema at its core. In addition to the previously announced films such as Intermission by Anna Kuznetsova, New Miracle by Alexandra Strelyanaya, About Dry Grasses by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, The Nature of Love by Monia Chokri, Frau by Lyubov Mulmenko, the programme will also feature the fantasy comedy Year of Birth directed by Mikhail Mestetsky.

  • Year of Birth, directed by Mikhail Mestetsky. Russia, 2023, 105 min

“The programme was designed by the selection team of the international competition. We came across so many excellent films that the competition simply could not accommodate all of them. Yet it would be criminal to waste such great cinema. This is how the idea of an out-of-competition programme of short and medium-length films called ‘Multiverse’ came about. It breaks down into four micro-universes—the four sessions titled ‘Time Travel,’ ‘Day,’ ‘Night,’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’,” says Mikhail Ratgauz, one of the programme’s curators.

Time Travel: The past of cinema and the world, revisited

  • All Tomorrow’s Parties, directed by Dalei Zhang. China, 2022, 24 min
  • Applause, directed by Guilherme Daniel. Portugal, 2023, 11 min
  • Other Times, directed by Xavier Guàrdia. Spain, 2023, 20 min
  • At the Circuit, directed by Olivier van Malderghem. Belgium, 2023, 14 min
  • Scenes with My Father, directed by Biserka Šuran. The Netherlands, 2023, 46 min

Day: Light within us and in the world

  • Women Visiting a City, directed by Enrique Buleo, Spain, 2022, 15 min
  • Gentle Hum of Spring, directed by Simon Garez, Canada, 2022, 10 min
  • Signals from an Island, directed by Polina Melnik, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, 2023, 11 min
  • The Things to Come, directed by Santiago Ráfales, Spain, 2022, 19 min
  • Tindergraf, directed by Júlia Barata, Portugal, 2022, 28 min

Night: Dark within us and in the world

  • The Altar, directed by Moe Myat May Zarchi. Myanmar, 2022, 10 min
  • A Woman in Makueni, directed by Valeri Aluskina, Daria Belova. Germany, 2023, 14 min
  • Taste Life, directed by Léo-Antonin Lutinier. France, 2023, 25 min
  • Their Bodies Don’t Tremble When They Rise From the Water, directed by Esteban Cruz Orozco. Columbia, 2022, 15 min
  • Don’t Cry Gabriel, directed by Mathilde Chavanne. France, 2023, 24 min
  • The Eyeball Person, directed by Yuri Muraoka. Japan, 2023, 12 min

Apocalypse Now: confronting disasters, finding paths to salvation

  • The White Flowers and the Moon, directed by David Ingels. France, 2022, 22 min
  • Animal Transport, directed by Iván Bustinduy. Argentina, 2022, 19 min
  • Small Exchanges, Great Destiny, directed by Pierre Villemin. France, 2022, 41 min
  • With All Due Humanity, directed by Casper Sczecienski. France, 2023, 23 min

The collection of animated films has been crafted over several years by students of VGIK, the Russian State University of Cinematography, in the workshop of Natalia Borisovna Dabizha, an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. Her career includes prestigious awards such as the Nika Award, Primetime Emmy, and the Moscow Prize. Natalia Dabizha generously shares her expertise with her students, preserving their individual artistic identities while guiding them into the realm of animation possibilities.

“These films employ various techniques, yet technology serves merely as a means to express ideas. Ideas remain the cornerstone of every creative work. The programme surprises with its wide range of themes and stylistic solutions. Along with poetic films, there are grotesque, ironic and action-packed ones… They are very different, but they all share a common thread: the emerging talent of these young filmmakers. Many of them have garnered recognition at both domestic and international festivals,” says Natalia Dabizha, creator of the We’ll Draw It, We’ll Live It! programme.

  • Airship of Unknown Direction, directed by Alexandra Galitskova. Russia, 2018, 5 min
  • Cabaret, directed by Marianna Grigorova. Russia, 2021, 4 min
  • Company, directed by Rustam Kornaushkin. Russia, 2016, 4 min
  • A Boat, directed by Anastasia Makhlina. Russia, 2018, 6 min
  • Red Black, directed by Ekaterina Kudoyarova. Russia, 2017, 4 min
  • Like, directed by Anastasia Dymnova. Russia, 2020, 3 min
  • Mazai Is Not Noah!, directed by Tatyana Chernilevskaya. Russia, 2018, 8 min
  • The Boy and the Fox, directed by Svetlana Tugaybey. Russia, 2012, 5 min
  • Maruska, directed by Lyudmila Smolyar. Russia, 2021, 5 min
  • Mask, directed by Daria Mantsereva. Russia, 2021, 4 min
  • Frozen Wolves, directed by Danil Lavrikov. Russia, 2021, 4 min
  • Professionals, directed by Kaurbek Baroev. Russia, 2023, 5 min
  • Journey, directed by Egor Gornostaev. Russia, 2018, 9 min
  • Remora, directed by Anna Bulakhova. Russia, 2023, 7 min
  • Bundle, directed by Zinaida Shcherbatova. Russia, 2021, 5 min

“Another out-of-competition programme crafted by the festival’s selection team focuses on young Russian cinema, which refuses to fade away, despite premature pronouncements of its demise. The programme delves into the theme of inner freedom, a force that triumphs over external obstacles. It features 11 short live-action films created by graduates from the nation’s most prominent film schools. The programme will culminate with a round table discussion on the fate and fortunes of young Russian cinema, with critic Larisa Malyukova moderating the conversation,” says Mikhail Ratgauz, one of the curators of the programme titled Russian Youth. Present Continuous.

  • Aykuo, directed by Ayaal Adamov. Russia, 2023, 22 min
  • Nothing Disturbed Me in My Sleep, directed by Gennady Lebedev. Russia, 2023, 15 min
  • Outstanding Days, directed by Artur Grigoriev. Russia, 2023, 18 min
  • Winter in Summer, directed by Sofia Kotova. Russia, 2023, 20 min
  • Caucasus, directed by Elina Belikova, Lika Yatkovskaya. Russia, 2023, 20 min
  • The Crowns Are Pumping Up the Wind, directed by Anton Ermolin. Russia, 2021, 27 min
  • My Good Star, directed by Denis Bazovoy. Russia, 2023, 30 min
  • Ambulance, directed by Mikhail Nilov. Russia, 2023, 16 min
  • Tonok47, directed by Egor Lebedev. Russia, 2022, 21 min
  • A Hug, Maybe?, directed by Anastasia Kuzina. Russia, 2022, 25 min
  • Fur Coat, directed by Evgeny Vedrov. Russia, 2023, 22 min

Traditionally cutting-edge films at the Festival are presented by students of Russia’s largest film schools: the Russian State University of Cinematography and the Saint Petersburg State University of Film and Television.

The All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after Sergei Gerasimov (VGIK) was established on September 1, 1919, in Moscow. The Institute is dedicated to training creative professionals in the fields of cinematography, television, video, and various screen arts. In 2013, VGIK received recognition as an especially valuable cultural heritage site of the Russian Federation and was included in the State Register of Especially Valuable Objects of Cultural Heritage of the Russian Federation.

  • Anomaly, directed by Alexandra Ozeretskaya. Russia, 2022, 19 min.
  • Bebia, Babua, Anzorik, Me and Mom, directed by Raul Heydarov. Russia, 2022, 29 min.
  • Voices, directed by Ivan Voroshilov. Experimental. Russia, 2022, 19 min.
  • Nowhere. Nohow, directed by Ivana Solovey. Russia, 2022, 24 min. VGIK
  • The Ferryman, directed by Kristina Lebedeva. Russia, 2022, 18 min.
  • Dog of Truth, directed by Maria Ivanova. Russia, 2022, 24 min.

St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television (SPUFT) stands as Russia’s oldest film school, having opened its doors on September 9, 1918. The institute’s mission revolves around the training of well-rounded professionals who not only meet international standards and labor market demands but also actively contribute to the nation’s social and spiritual development. Throughout its history, the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television has nurtured several generations of gifted filmmakers who have played pivotal roles in shaping the vibrant present and promising future of the country.

  • Macula, directed by Sasha Kozma. Russia, 2023, 14 min
  • Väinö, directed by Vladislav Egorenkov. Russia, 2023, 17 min
  • Other Worlds Child, directed by Natalia Tetenkina, Russia, 2022, 19 min
  • The Heart of Baikal, directed by Arina Kosmina. Russia, 2022, 25 min

The NST Horror Fest special programme will include Susanna Fogel’s psychological thriller Cat Person, adapted from a story by Kristen Roupenian. According to film critic Egor Moskvitin, Programme Director of NST Horror Fest, Cat Person is not only an entertaining movie, but also a profound social study of abusive relationships, the persistent inequality between women and men, an incredible story that is a must-see for all twenty and thirty-year-olds. The drama thriller premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • Cat Person, directed by Susanna Fogel. USA, France, 2023, 120 min

Another addition to the NST Horror Fest special programme is the Australian thriller, Blaze. This festival hit promises to captivate viewers who see cinema as a portal to their childhood. The film was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF), Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and others.

  • Blaze, directed by Del Kathryn Barton. Australia, 2023, 101 min

The Festival organizers will also hold a series of special screenings, including high-profile premieres from streaming platforms. The creators of these projects will present them on October 24 at the Alexandrinsky Theatre’s New Stage as part of an industry meeting and round table. Throughout the Festival, numerous directors will engage in post-screening discussions with the audience, offering deeper insights into their works and addressing questions from viewers.  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.

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