‘Geographer’ Big Winner at Russian Academy Awards

"The Geographer Drank His Globe Away"

The festival favorite from director Aleksandr Veledinskiy took best film, best director and both lead acting honors at Russia's Nika Awards.

Last year's festival favorite The Geographer Drank His Globe Away from from director Aleksandr Veledinskiy was the big winner at this year's Russian Film Academy Awards, winning best film, best director and honors for best actor and actress, respectively, for stars Konstantin Khabensky and Yelena Lyadova.

The drama about the life of a provincial high school teacher (Khabensky) also won best score for composer Alexei Zubarev at Russia's equivalent to the Oscars, called the Nikas.

The Geographer has been a favorite on the festival circuit, taking top honors at Russia's Kinotavr festival last summer. It has done less well at the box office, earning just $4.2 million.

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Theatrical returns were likely hit in part due to the film being released simultaneously online on a legal VOD service, though Geographer producers pulled the title off the net after Russian cinema owners complained. 

At the Nikas, however, the small budget Geographer beat out 3D blockbuster Stalingrad from director Fyodor Bondarchuk. The WWII drama earned seven Nika nominations -- and an astounding $52 million box-office take -- but only won in technical categories, winning for best sound, best production design and best costume design.

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The Ukrainian film Khaitarma, directed by Akhtem Seitablayev, won the Nika for best film from the CIS and Baltic states.

Vitaly Mansky's Truba (Pipe) won best documentary, and Ku! Kin-Dza-Dza picked up a Nika for the best animated film.

The best screenplay prize went to Konstantin Lopushansky and Pavel Finn for Rol (Role), a period drama directed by Lopushansky.

Sergey Astakhov and Sergei Shults won the best cinematography award for their work on the disaster movie Metro, one of last year's local box office champions.

Zhora Kryzhovnikov, the first-time feature director of Gorko! (Kiss the Bride!), won the discovery of the year honor. 

The TV series Ottepel (Thaw) was given a special honor at the 2014 Nikas, held in Moscow on Tuesday night.