×

St. Petersburg Fest Fetes Fresh Faces

Some exciting things are brewing on St. Petersburg’s New Holland Island, where history and culture converge. Founded at the same time as the city itself, the island was mainly used for military purposes for more than 300 years. But in 2010, entrepreneurs and philanthropists Roman Abramovich and Daria Zhukova formed the initiative New Holland: Cultural Urbanization to develop it as a site for cultural programs and grand civic initiatives.

Among the most anticipated events is the New Holland Island Intl. Debut Film Festival, whose mission is to support original and distinctive creative visions and to introduce new names to a wider audience. Although its inaugural juried competition will take place July 14-19, a three-day preview version in July 2019 drew an enthusiastic audience to screenings, workshops from the major Russian film schools, and public talks by filmmakers and producers.

Under the leadership of festival president Alexander Rodnyansky, the producer of Oscar nominated films “Leviathan” and “Loveless,” and program director Alexey Artamonov, a wellrespected curator and critic, the preview laid out their curatorial line: to show daring works that open new frontiers and expand established formats. In future editions, they will also create further context with special screenings of fiction and documentary films from established directors, as well as an extensive education and entertainment program.

The festival team is deep in preparation for their upcoming event. The main competition will be comprised of first and second fiction features completed in 2019 and 2020. The shorts lineup will include documentary, experimental and fiction works from directors who have not yet made their feature debut. Program director Artamonov expects nine titles in the main competition and around 40 in the shorts. In the main section, a top prize of €15,000 ($16,300) will be awarded, as well as a €10,000 ($10,900) jury prize. Three short film awards of €5,000 ($5,430) will also be distributed.

“Our festival aims to become a major film event in the city, focused primarily on cross-disciplinary, boundary-pushing and experimental forms of young cinema,” Artamonov says.

“At the same time, we’re going to deal with acute social issues in the program of special screenings, with discussions concerning problems beyond cinema.”

Among the team’s biggest challenge for now is keeping their aesthetic standards high and inviting only films that represent truly distinct auteur voices. Their next major step will be to build a solid connection between this type of filmmaking and the local audience, as well as among local streaming and theatrical exhibitors. And they have big ambitions. Artamonov notes, “In a few years, we hope to launch a pitching platform for debut film projects; to expand our activity to the field of production; and other kinds of support for bold new filmmakers.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Blue Story' Review: A British Invasion

    'Blue Story': Film Review

    The blockbusters will be postponed, the indie films in many cases will head straight to streaming. But even before the apple cart of movie distribution got tipped over, “Blue Story” had traced an unlikely path. , it was written and directed by Andrew Onwubolu, the London-based rapper, producer, actor, and director who bills himself as [...]

  • Battle of Jangsari

    Megan Fox’s ‘Battle of Jangsari’ Inks Multiple Sales Deals

    Korean-made war film “Battle of Jangsari,” which features Megan Fox in a key role as a front line reporter, is set to play in multiple European and Asian territories. The film already had a deal with WellGo USA for North America. Seoul-based sales agent, Finecut said that it had additionally licensed the film to Pandastorm [...]

  • Doc Edge 2019 Forum

    New Zealand’s Doc Edge Festival To Shift Online

    Doc Edge, New Zealand’s annual factual film festival, will this year become an online-only event. Instead of cancelling due to the disruptions to production and travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the festival will move all screenings and events into the virtual space. The virtual festival is scheduled to run between May 28 and June [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Cuts Premiums by 50% Due to Coronavirus Crisis

    The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has cut 50% from the cost of premiums for the second quarter in response to the coronavirus crisis. SAG-AFTRA members were notified of the reduction on Wednesday via a message from SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White. They said the cuts would cover participants who had been [...]

  • Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole

    Film News Roundup: Dolly Parton Donates $1 Million for Research on Coronavirus Cure

    In today’s film news roundup, Dolly Parton makes a donation for coronavirus cure, Howie Mandel and Ashlee Simpson join the voice cast of “Pierre The Pigeon-Hawk” and American Documentary launches an artists emergency fund. RESEARCH DONATION Dolly Parton has donated $1 million to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital to help aid research to find a cure for [...]

  • Amy Adams Jennifer Garner

    Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams on 'Save With Stories,' Helping Children During Coronavirus Quarantine

    Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams are opening their contact lists for their new endeavor to help children during the coronavirus pandemic. Not long after the U.S. came to a screeching halt because of COVID-19, the two superstars launched “SaveWithStories,” an Instagram account that features celebrities and other notable figures reading children’s books. The line-up already [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content