Kinotavr closes with surprise victory

First-time feature director takes top prize for second year

MOSCOW -- For a second year running, Kinotavr, Russia's main film festival, ended with a surprise victory by a first-time director.

As the 20th edition came to a close Sunday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the festival jury gave the top award to "Volchok" (Spinning Top), the debut feature by Vasili Sigarev, who was previously known as a playwright. The drama about a complicated relationship between mother and daughter in a Russian provincial town also collected the screenplay prize.

Last year's winner, "Shultes" by Bakur Bakuradze, was also the director's debut feature. Overall, the festival was regarded as a victory for the younger generation of local filmmakers, who took practically all the main prizes.

Ivan Vyrypayev picked up the best director's award for his sophomore feature, "Kislorod" (Oxygen), a sophisticated musical youth drama loosely based on the Ten Commandments, which was also awarded for best music.

"Spinning Top" and "Oxygen" also tied for the critics' award.

Yana Troyanova was awarded best actress prize for her role in "Volchok," and Boris Kamorzin picked up the best actor's prize for his performance in "Skazka Pro Temnotu" (A Fairy Tale about Darkness) by another young emerging director, Nikolai Khomeriki.

The best photography prize went to Dmitry Yashonkov, for Igor Voloshin's "Ya" (Me). Lifetime achievement awards were given to the festival's founder Mark Rudinshtein and, posthumously, to its former president, actor Oleg Yankovsky, who died recently in Moscow.

The festival's business highlight was the presentation of a film finance program by the company Russian World Studios.

The production and studio company came forward with a $20 million program of support for the local film industry at a time when the future of state funding remains unclear.

RWS said it plans to primarily invest the cash in movies whose production was stalled due to the financial downturn but is also ready to finance movie projects at early stages. It is inviting applications.
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