Andrei Smirnov’s 'Zhila-Byla Odna Baba' Wins Best Russian Film at Nika Awards

The director takes home the top prize after a 32-year break from filmmaking.

MOSCOW – Andrei Smirnov’s Zhila-Byla Odna Baba (Once Upon A Time There Was a Woman) was named the Best Russian Movie at the Nika awards ceremony, held in Moscow on April 8.

The movie was the first feature directed by Smirnov after a 32 year break, during which he focused on his acting career. It chronicles a life of an illiterate Russian peasant woman between 1909 and 1921, focusing on her private life and major historic events in the country.

Once Upon A Time There Was a Woman also brought Smirnov the Best Screenplay award, while its star Darya Yekamasova collected the Best Actress Nika, sharing it with Nadezhda Markina, awarded for the lead role in Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena, which was also nominated for the Best Movie award. Another actor in Smirnov’s movie, Roman Madyanov, was awarded as the best supporting actor.

Elena also brought Zvyagintsev the Best Director award, while Mikhail Krichman collected a Nika for the best cinematography and Yelena Lyadova picked up the Best Supporting Actress award.

Sergei Garmash was named the Best Actor for his role in Oleg Pogodin’s criminal drama Dom (House).

The other movies nominated for the Best Movie Nika were Sergei Loban’s Shapito-Shou (Chapiteau-Show), which won the Special Jury Prize at last year’s Moscow International Film Festival; last year’s box-office champion Vysotsky. Spasibo, ChtoZhivoi (Vysotsky. Grateful To Be Alive), directed by Pyotr Buslov' and Vyacheslav RossSibir. Monamour. (Sibiria. Mon Amour).

Actor Oleg Basilashvili collected the Lifetime Achievement award, and Leonid Desyatnikov was awarded as the Best Composer for his score for Alexander Zeldovich’s movie Mishen (Target).

Some controversy was stirred when host Kseniya Sobchak confronted actress Chulpan Khamatova, awarded for her charitable activities, about a video in support of president elect Vladimir Putin, in which Khamatova starred. When the video was released during the run-up to the March 4 presidential election, there were heavy speculations that Khamatova starred in the video only out of concerns for the future of her charitable fund focused on helping sick children. At the Nika ceremony, the actress avoided commenting on the issue.