“Kinotavr” is the largest national film festival. Every year in June, on the Black sea coast in Sochi, the top talents of Russian cinema come together: directors, producers, actors, script writers, directors of photography. They come to participate in the country’s main cinematic event. For twentythree years “Kinotavr” has uncovered new names and talented, real cinema.
The ten days of the festival are filled with a variety of events, among which people can choose according to their own interest. Thus, “Kinotavr” is:
- Competition, non-competition and special screenings of the most interesting films of the year. The tradition of the special programme “Cinema on the Square” is especially precious to the citizens and visitors of Sochi. In the evenings, on the big square in front of the Winter Theatre, some thousand people gather to watch great cinema directly under the starry sky of Sochi.
- Professional round tables, masters-classes, press conferences with cinematographers.
- The impressive opening and closing ceremonies of “Kinotavr”, with the opening highlight of the so-called “Star Walk”, along which the most popular filmmakers and actors make their way to the Winter Theatre.
- The cultural programme: concerts by stars, shows and entertainment.
The history of “Kinotavr” began in 1990, when the non-state, independent company “Moscow Suburbs” under the direction of Mark Rudinstein organized a “Festival of Un-bought Cinema” in Podolsk with the aim of supporting national cinema at a time when the national distribution network had collapsed. Rudinstein’s initiative was the first response by cinematographers to the problems of the Russian film industry during perestroika, which was connected, above all, with the reductions in film financing. This undertaking received support from cinema audiences, and in 1991 the national festival “Kinotavr” was born in Sochi, headed by Mark Rudinstein and Oleg Yankovsky, the festival’s permanent president since 1993.
From 1994 onwards, Sochi hosted simultaneously two festivals: the Open Russian Film Festival (ORFF) and the International Film Festival (IFF), registered with the International Federation of Associations of Film Producers (FIAPF).
In 2005 “Kinotavr”, the largest Russian film festival, changed owners. “Kinotavr’s” founder Mark Rudinstein passed his “child” into the hands of Alexander Rodniansky and Igor Tolstunov. A board of trustees of the festival was set up, which includes: Peter Aven, President of the shareholding company “Alpha Bank”; Oleg Deripaska, General Director of the shareholding company “Russian Aluminium”; Vitali Ignatenko, General Director of “ITAR-TASS”; Alexander Tkachev, Governor of the Krasnodar Region; Mikhail Shvydkoi, Head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography; Konstantin Ernst, General Director of the shareholding company “First Channel”. “Kinotavr” will celebrate its 17th birthday in a completely revised shape. The spirit of the old festival will remain with its special, warm, friendly atmosphere.
The 16th “Kinotavr” festival, which took place in Sochi from 2-12 June 2005, continued with the best traditions that developed over fifteen years, but also made a number of innovations. The competition programme reflected the most recent trends in Russian cinema, and more attention was given to the business part of the festival: professional round tables, discussions of films by critics, masters-classes for young experts, special screenings that promote Russian films to foreign visitors. A dense business schedule and a serious professional approach became the distinctive features of the 16th “Kinotavr” festival. The festival management has taken the decision to discontinue the international film festival, which was usually held in the framework of the main “Kinotavr” festival, and to include instead a special programme for invited selectors from international festivals and business people with an interest in the future of Russia’s film-market and film-business, as well as representatives of the foreign press. In 2005 the festival united everyone who was not indifferent to the future of Russian cinema and its international prestige.
With the arrival of the new management “Kinotavr” began to change and became professionally focused, younger, and aimed at the future. However, this is only the first stage in the life of a revised “Kinotavr”. Much work still lies ahead, but many things are already well under way. The project «Kinotavr-Region», which has been developed to widen the festival’s audience, is growing. Thanks to this project, the inhabitants of Ekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg, Perm, Samara and Tomsk have seen the best Russian films from “Kinotavr 2005” and the main premieres of the season during the autumn of 2005. Thus, the festival “Kinotavr” is gradually turning from a Sochi-event into an all-Russian event, and is beginning to develop strong international links.
In 2005 “Kinotavr” presented for the first time a special program of the best Russian films in Kiev at the IFF “Molodist” (“Youth”). Russian and Ukrainian cinema has always been closely linked historically and culturally. The cooperation between “Kinotavr” and “Youth” opens a unique opportunity to acquaint the Ukrainian spectators with the best new films from Russia.
“Kinotavr” has not stripped Moscow of its attention either. In order to see the most interesting Russian films it is now no longer necessary to make the trip to Sochi. On 1 December 2005 “Kinotavr” opened its own film-club on the premises of the cinema “Fitil”. Henceforth, the most worthy and talented films can be seen in Moscow! And not only seen, but also discussed with the filmmakers and well-known film critics, during a pleasant evening out in the company of true film buffs.
At the opening ceremony of the 16th festival Mikhail Shvydkoi called “Kinotavr” the main Russian film festival. The festival management intends to do everything in its power to strengthen the status of “Kinotavr” even further.