St. Petersburg Film Festival to Kick Off on Sept. 21

The event replaces the St. Petersburg Film Forum.

MOSCOW – The St Petersburg International Film Festival is to kick off on Sept. 21, replacing the film forum, which was held in Russia’s “cultural capital” in the previous two years.

The official competition is to consist of 14 features. Among the highlights of the program are Tie pohjoiseen (Road North) by Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki; Invasion, an Austrian/German co-production directed by Georgia-born Dito Tsintsadze; Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle (War Witch) and Al Nihaya (The End) by Morocco’s Hisham Lasri. Russia is to be represented by Alexei Balabanov’s Ya Tozhe Khochu (I Also Want It).

The festival jury consists of Finnish writer/director/producer Aku Louhimies, Russian producer Yelena Yatsura, German culture expert Erika Gregor and Israeli film official Gilli Mendel. It is to be presided by Serbian actor/director Emir Kusturica.

Organizers say that the festival aims to expose St Petersburg audiences to the most interesting international films, on which the fest’s eleven non-competition programs are to be focused. They include “Shooting Stars,” “Movies with a Taste of Honey,” “Movies from India without Songs and Dances” and “The Unknown Lenfilm,” which is to feature some obscure gem made at Lenfilm, Russia’s oldest film studio.

Awards in the best film, best director, best actor and best actress nominations, as well as the audience choice award are to be handed out at the closing ceremony on Sept. 29.

The French/Belgian movie Le grand soir (Big Night), directed by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, is to be the opening night film and the Irish/UK co-production Shadow Dancer, directed by James Marsh, is to be screened as the closing night film.

The St Petersburg Film Festival is replacing the film forum, which was held in the city in 2010 and 2011. The first edition was a non-competition event, while last year’s film forum featured a competition program, “Best of the Best.”