Russia's biggest local film festival starts

Showcase of the Russian film industry

MOSCOW -- The premiere of Alexander Proshkin's "Zhivi I pomni" (Live and Remember) kicked off the 19th annual Kinotavr festival Saturday as Russia's biggest local film event opened in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

In addition to Proshkin's adaptation of Soviet writer Valentin Rasputin's novel, the evening featured the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to director Alexei German.

The festival runs through Sunday, when prizes for the best film, director, actor, actress and a few others will be awarded.

Launched in 1991, Kinotavr was a pioneer of the new generation of local film festivals, gradually turning into a major showcase for the Russian film industry and a competitor to the Moscow International Film Festival.

Over the past few years, there has been notable competition between Kinotavr and MIFF for the best films from Russian directors.

According to Kinotavr programming director Sitora Aliyeva, festivals are often the closest Russian films get to a theatrical release, as distributors are often unwilling to buy local films.