Russia's Strana National Film Awards Restructures Prize Format

The youngest of Russia's various film award shows is adding new sections, but reducing the number of honors it doles out for each category.

MOSCOW – Russia's youngest national film awards Strana -- which means 'Country' -- is changing its prize format so that it selects just one winner for each of its various categories.

The fifth edition of the awards -- which are backed by RTR, Russia's second most-watched public television network; the National Association of TV & Radio Broadcasters (NAT); and the Cinematographers Union -- is dropping its honors for three runners-up per category and will only focus on absolute winners, the event's press service says.

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The shift in emphasis is being done to help differentiate the Strana awards from the three other annual Russian film award shows: February's Golden Eagles founded in 2002 and presided over by Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov; April's NIKAs, the oldest national awards, founded in 1987; and the annual prizes given by Kinotavr, Russia's national film festival held each year in the Black Sea resort of Sochi since 1991.

Kirill Nabutov, a television presenter, producer and member of the Strana jury, said: "This year the jury will determine only one winner in each category, who will receive the grand prize and a cash prize of 100,000 rubles ($3,000)."

Giving notice to the three runners-up was just a tradition designed to increase suspense, he added.

To compensate for the change, Strana will introduce new categories, including best director, best cinematographer and best original idea.

In another innovation, competing filmmakers will also be asked to choose the best five projects in each category -- which will receive a special award from the event participants.

The awards are judged by a panel of top television, feature and documentary filmmakers including jury chairman and NAT head Eduard Sagalaev, Moscow film festival program chief Kirill Razlogov, director Alexey Uchitel and award-winning documentarist, Vitaly Mansky.