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Max Howard - On the Road from Moscow to St. Petersburg

Surprise, surprise - I’m not at 30,000 ft. as I write this latest blog but on a high-speed train, traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg in Russia.

International Animation Consulting Group

Surprise, surprise - I’m not at 30,000 ft. as I write this latest blog but on a high-speed train, traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg in Russia, as I make my journey back to the U.K. following a wonderful time attending the KROK International Animation Festival.

This unique festival, now in its nineteenth year, is held in alternate years between the Ukraine and Russia.  What makes this festival so unique is the location – it’s on a river cruise ship.  This year was the Moscow edition.   Over a period of eights days, starting in St. Petersburg, the ship travels leisurely along rivers, across inland seas, lakes and through multiple locks before the voyage is completed in Moscow.  Stopping en route to visit animation studios, monasteries and other interesting and inspiring sights.  But, it is the activities on board that provide the real interest.

This year’s festival was focused on first-time filmmakers featuring, three categories - graduation and one non-graduation, plus

178 films ranging from a minute or two to over twenty minutes were screened over six days.  My participation this year was as a jury member.  A daunting amount of films to review, remember and then decide which ones to award the prizes to. 

This task was really challenging as there were so many amazing films chosen by the Selecting Committee for us to review, under the leadership of Program Director, Alik Shpilyuk, who introduced each screening session with the words:  ‘respected colleagues, dear friends’.  

What fun we had in the jury room debating the merits of every film.  There were some late night, passionate discussions but thankfully always in the best of spirits and I don’t mean vodka, although it was available in abundance!

So, along with my fellow jurors:

Jose Miguel Ribeiro (Portugal)

Bastien Dubois (France)

Elena Kasavina (Ukraine)

Lisa Skvortsova (Russia)

Members of the jury, along with Tiziana Loschi from the Annecy Animation Festival (second from the left).

Jose Miguel expertly led us as the head of the jury committee watched over by Lyudmila Chernoivannik, as the Jury Secretary, along with Natalya Snopko as our interpreter.  

Natalya Snopko, Lyudmila Chernoivannik & Jose Miguel Ribeiro.

We had a lot of laughs as well as interesting debates as we dissected the merits of our favorite films but in the end came to a unanimous decision as to the winners of all the awards. 

Thirteen in all!

And here they are…..

Category:  Student Films:

From 38 films the following received awards:

Diploma: 

‘From Dad to Son’ – director: Nils Knoblich (Germany)

Best Film: 

‘Thembi’s Diary’ – director: Kim Ji-Soo (Republic of Korea)

Category:  Graduation Films:

From 99 films the following received awards:

Diplomas: (not in order of merit)

‘Oh Sheep!’ – director:  Gottfried Mentor (Germany)

‘My Weird Grandfather’ - director:  Dina Velikovskaya (Russia)

‘Swarming’ - director:  Joni Mannisto (Finland)

‘Phisto Leaves’ - director:  Sonya Kendel (Russia)

Best Film:

‘I am Tom Moody’ – director: Ainslie Henderson (United Kingdom - Scotland)

Category:  First Professional Film:

From 41 films the following received awards:

Diplomas: (not in order of merit)

‘The Banquet of the Concubine’ - director:  Hefang Wei (France)

‘Snowflake’ – director’ Natalya Chernysheva  (Russia)

Best Film:

‘All Consuming Love’ (‘Man in a Cat’) – director: Louis Hudson (United Kingdom)

Special Jury Prizes:

Both from ‘Graduation Films’ Category - not in order of merit

‘366 Days’ - director: Johannes Schiehsl  (Germany)

‘Oh Willy’ - directors: Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels (Belgium - France - Nederlands)

Special Alexander Tatarskiy Award: 

A joint award from the Jury and the festival organizing committee

from ‘Graduation Films’ Category

‘The Making of Longbird’ - director: Will Anderson (Unites Kingdom – Scotland)

Grand Prix Prize Best in Festival:

from ‘Graduation Films’ Category

‘Rice or Armenian’ – Helene Marchal, Samy Barras, Romain Blondelle & Celine Seille (France)

The 178 films included some I had seen before but plenty I had not and, more importantly, films and filmmakers that we will be hearing more of in the future.

All-in-all, a wonderful eight day festival was spent aboard the Vladimir Majakovski. 

So many people work all year to make the festival happen, of particular mention must be Irina Kaplichnaya, the festival’s General Director, who works tirelessly and lovingly to make KROK a resounding success and a sought after festival to have one’s films screened.

Members of the jury and prizes winners ringing the bell to signify the closing of the 2012 festival.

Until next year’s festival, when the bells of the festival will be rung again!

And from me, until the next time, I am ‘up in the air’ or like this time, on a train!

Max Howard

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