St. Petersburg forum to become film festival

Participating Hollywood majors back plan for next year

MOSCOW -- The international film forum, which was held from May 2 to 5 in St. Petersburg to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, is to be turned into an international film festival as of next year, organizers said at the closing press conference on Wednesday.

"Representatives of all five Hollywood majors who were participating in the forum backed the idea of a fully-fledged international film festival in St Petersburg," said Alla Manilova, the city's vice governor and head of the forum's organizing committee, adding that U.S. producer Andrew G. Vajna, who also attended the forum, was also in favor of the idea and promised support.

The forum's program director Andrei Plakhov said that the new festival is most likely to have a more general focus than just war cinema, which was the main theme of this year's forum, but the details are still to be worked out.

According to Manilova, major international brands are ready to become the new event's sponsors, if it graduates to the level of a fully-fledged international festival. This year's forum was financed exclusively from the city's budget, she said but would not give the event's total budget.

The forum's president, director Alexei German, hinted that the new international festival in St Petersburg could become an alternative to the Moscow International Film Festival. "[MIFF] is no longer a true cultural event," he said. "So let's make one here."

Several years ago, there were plans to launch a major international festival in St Petersburg, but they were later scrapped, reportedly because MIFF's organizers vehemently opposed the idea.