Lack of fest prize stirs new Russian revolution

Jury chair kept offstage at closing ceremonies

SOCHI, Russia — The closing of the Russian Intl. Fest was marred by a conflict between the jury and fest organizers, with no Grand Prize given and with jury prexy Jane Scott kept off stage at a chaotic live broadcast of the closing ceremonies.

The eight-member jury had decided not to award the Grand Prix, citing poor quality of pics showcased in competition. However, 30 minutes before the skedded start of the June 13 closer, fest producer Mark Rudinshtein approached Scott, requesting that the jury change their verdict and threatening to discredit them if they didn’t.

Scott — producer of “Shine” and other Australian pics — refused to comply with Rudinshtein’s request and she did not appear onstage, as scheduled, to announce results.

“I was shocked and insulted” by Rudinshtein’s behavior, Scott later told Daily Variety. “His actions were totally against the spirit of filmmaking. The West already views Russia with suspicion — and this kind of action can only confirm such opinions.”

Rudinshtein later apologized, though Scott, after consultation with jury members, declined to accept the apology.

Rudinshtein subsequently commented, “Each festival must present a certain number of agreed awards. When we found out at the last moment (about the decision), I tried to talk to Jane Scott, but found her position supercilious, and decided to take her off stage.”

Although no Grand Prix was awarded, the Sochi jury did give a special prize to encourage future achievement to debut Czech helmer Pavel Marek’s first feature “Dead Beetle.” Best actor nomination went to Roshan Seth in British pic “Flight,” actress to Natasha Ninkovic in Peter Antonijevic’s “Savior.”

The jury lineup also included Helmut Berger, Britain’s Richard Goodwin, India’s Aruna Vasudov, Hungarian helmer Enyedi Ildiko, Lithuania’s Bartas Sharunas and Russian directors Pavel Lungin and Valery Todorovsky.