'Mongol' conquers Nika Awards

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MOSCOW -- "Mongol," Sergei Bodrov’s Genghis Khan biopic, which was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar but lost out to the Austrian film, "The Counterfeiters," has won six Nika Awards, the Russian equivalent of the Oscars.

The win included film, director (Bodrov), cinematography (Sergei Trofimov and Rogier Stoffers), sound design (Stephan Konken, Bruno Tarrière, Maxim Belovolov), art direction (Dashi Namdakov and Yelena Zhukova) and costumes (Karin Lohr).

The Best Film prize was awarded by Mikhail Shvydkoy, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, who remarked, "Finally we have lived long enough to see that the state is no longer in debt to cinema. More films are being shot than there are festivals and prizes. Nevertheless, I hope that [Russian] cinema will remain an art and a mission, and will not be exclusively aimed at commercial success."

The other titles nominated for best film were Alexei Balabanov’s "Cargo 200," Alexei Popogrebsky’s "Simple Things," Vera Storozheva’s "Traveling with Pets" and Anna Melikian’s "The Mermaid."

"The Mermaid," did garner a win for best actress for Masha Shalyayeva, who had previously won best actress at the Kinotavr Festival, Russia’s key forum for domestic films. "Simple Things" won best screenplay for Popogrebsky’s script. The best actor award went to prolific middle-aged thesp Sergei Garmash for his work in Nikita Mikhalkov’s "12."

Established by the Soviet Cinematographers Union in 1987, the Nikas are the oldest film industry awards in Russia and the former Soviet Union. They take their name from Nike, the goddess of victory and the statuette is modeled after the sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. In 1990, a special Nika Academy was established to vote on the awards.
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