Yasmin is the main character of the film "No Prior Appointment". When she was six like her son is now, the family moved to Berlin. Today the protagonist has to return to Iran because her father dies. Her son has autism, and this makes the trip very difficult. Having arrived in Iran, Yasmin, who hardly knew her father, is surprised to learn that he had left all his fortune to her. The short and unwanted stay in her father's hometown and encounters with people he knew make her change the way she thought of such things as life, death, and human attitude. The director Behrooz Shoaibi attended the press conference.
Behrooz Shoaibi: "When I was making this film, I told my friends and colleagues that it was very important to me how young people would understand this world when they reached their grandparents' age. Russia, like Iran, is a country of great and rich history. And it is very important for us that the modern generation understands the generation before it and that the past legacy would not disappear. I believe one of the tasks of cinema art is to remind about the past and do everything possible to prevent it from being forgotten. When people ask me why I am so keen about the past, I reply as a joke that I began to be keen on it when gray hair appeared in my beard. Our film shows a journey of a man not just travelling from point A to point B, but the journey of a soul, the return of a man to his true moral values".
In the documentary "The One I Love...", two guest workers come to Finland to earn easy money. The goal of Misha, a worker from a small Ukrainian town Konotop, is to earn money for apartments so he can rent them and never work again. Sergei Fyodorovich, a colonel of the Soviet army from Lithuania, needs to repair his Land Rover of which he is too proud, and also wishes some adventures during his retirement. The only thing is that they end up not in the best place to be, a summer house of 1918 immigrants from Saint Petersburg. Martti strives to restore the buildings and by that recover his memories of his grandfather. Martti's young daughter Anna decides to make a film about this.
The director Anna Berger, the producer Karina Sharafutdinova, and the film's character Martti Berger attended the press conference.
Anna Berger: "I had the idea to make the film when I was in Finland during the pandemic, and I had to shoot something for my studies in Moscow. And I didn't have any mates around, so I was the only person in the film crew. So, I chose a story that I could film myself. Also, the topic of traditions has always been very important to me. I didn't know any migrant workers before. I just saw them when they were coming to work. And I thought they were the right type. Especially Misha: his difficult life record made his so cynical, and he is even proud of it. At the same time, the main character has utopian views, he is nostalgic about the world that no longer exists and will never come back, and about the people with whom he has lost connections. Our film is about the conflict between generations, between the old and the new mindsets".
Martti Berger: "I was focusing not on Anna's creative work, but on watching the rebuilding of this house. I began thinking about the film only when everything was ready or almost done. And as time passed, I realized that there are so many different layers in this film: human, social, historical ones. It presents not only utopian views, but also an interest in the recovery of old architectural principles modern workers and builders no longer respect".
Karina Sharafutdinova: "Anna has a very subtle filmmaking approach, including in the film's music score. There is no score author whatsoever, nothing was made specifically for the film. The film uses only source music, and this is one of the bright solutions of the director".
The main character of "The Hives" is Luis. After thirty years of municipal service, the new mayor lays him off. He is already sixty and decides to return to his hometown, where 25 years ago terrorists killed peasants and his parents too. He sets his mind to give a new life to a bee farm: his father had taught him bee farming since childhood, and with that he finds a life cause to do. The director Luis Basurito attended the press conference".
Luis Basurito: "I have a personal link with this film. I was born in the Peruvian Andes, about eight hours from Lima, in one of the places most affected by the armed conflict in our country in the 1980s-1990s. This brutal conflict took the lives of many, they were killed both by the state and the Shining Path terrorists. Of course, I was personally deeply affected by these events, so the main character has been created from what I saw and knew myself. In many villages of this region people were killed and their bodies were not even found, human life was worthless here, and that was why people had to leave villages and move to cities to try to save their lives".
The main character of the film "F20", Oleg, is a guy from St. Petersburg's suburbia. He does boxing and works together with his friend Lyokha in a car repair shop on Kanonersky Island. Oleg is making plans ahead and saving money for a world trip, when a regular training session splits his life into "before" and "after".
The director Arseny Gerasimov, the general producer Roman Sviridov, the producer, costume designer Sofia Fedorova, the executive producer Nikita Bragin, the script co-author Yury Klavdiev, the actors Pavel Davydov and Nikita Pavlenko attended the press conference.
Arseny Gerasimov: "The inception of the film came, in a way, from a story in my town about a young, physically gifted athlete who was a Greco-Roman wrestling champion. He started taking drugs, including heroin, and his friend learned about it and beat him up. The athlete promised that he would never take drugs again, but, in the end, he got high again, felt shame before his friend, scribbled a note, and hang himself. And then the story for the film developed".
Yury Klavdiev: "I used to teach at Saint Petersburg School of New Cinema, and Arseny was my student in the scriptwriting department. One day he came to me with a synopsis of this idea, literally, just three or four sentences, and wanted to make a short film. I said the idea was good and it was bad to waste it for a short film and offered to make a full-length film".
Roman Sviridov: "The reason for the success in money search was Arseniy's wish to film, and this helped us make the film with a modest budget and without government money".
Nikita Bragin: "The funding was fully private, we asked money from people we know, from friends, we used connections, too. So, if you set a goal to make an independent film, you can do it. Pavel Davydov lived in a drug rehabilitation center for several days. The guys there were as open as they could. We understood that at early stages of their stay people are not yet ready to share, but those who stay there longer, for three to six months, some even a year or two, speak openly enough, and I think this even helps them".
Pavel Davydov: "Probably, everyone has some childhood traumas inflicted by traditional upbringing, their own patterns, which already in adulthood cause terrible things, complexes. And for this role it was necessary to take them and simply tailor them to the context of drug addict's world. Unfortunately, there are a lot of drug users. It is even more so in the neighborhoods where I was born. This is an extreme hinterland, and these people were around: some neighbors, some of my friends. I didn't ask anyone specifically, I just remembered and tailored it to the context".
Nikita Pavlenko: "I just fully relied on the director, came to St. Petersburg, and we immediately went for a walk in Kanonersky Island. And when you see those sneakers there hanging on the wires, you realize that you are entering the junkie area. And then you begin collecting the material for the part, bit by bit, following your feelings. It was a big pleasure acting in this film, such a boost of experience. We were doing something that we cared about, and it was great".
"The Burning Ice" tells the story of how ice hockey increased its popularity in the country after submitting the bid to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and gradually became a professional sport. The characters of the film are three nine-year-old forwards of a Beijing junior amateur ice hockey team, and they are dreaming of becoming professionals. While they fully dedicate themselves to training, their parents are facing a difficult choice: support their children in their striving to become professional athletes or make them forget about their dream. The director Liu Hanxiang attended the press conference in an online mode.
Liu Hanxiang: "I am from Beijing, and five years ago I learned that a junior hockey club had been created in Beijing. I was curious to know how things were going there, what future this club had, and why these kids were keen on hockey. By that time, I already had about ten years of experience in making documentaries, and I was drawn by the fact that these kids played hockey. But I wasn't making a film about the Chinese state raising hockey players, I was filming about families bringing up players. These kids may have different goals, some wishing to become professionals, celebrities, to succeed, to raise their living standards. But speaking of the kids I was shooting, their families' goal is to develop children to do what they like, they are not doing it for the sake of medals. I also wanted to show the attitude of three family generations to a child's dream and how it gradually evolves. Of course, hockey in China is still developing now, and it can't compete with such a global leader as Russia".
In "Tokyo Giant: the Legend of Victor Starffin", two sisters reunite after 42 years to uncover their father's incredible story. Viktor Starukhin, a young Russian refugee with a killer throw capability, managed to survive poverty, xenophobia, and World War II to become a Japanese baseball superstar.
The director Tchavdar Georgiev (online), the producer Anna Shalashina and one the characters, Oleg Starukhin, attended the press conference.
Tchavdar Georgiev: "We worked for a total of seven years on this film, the idea for which we came from one of our producers, Andrei Klimov, who always finds unique stories with a Russian twist. But I always come across projects that at first glance appear impossible to implement: we had to find people who knew Starukhin and convince his daughters to take part in our film, and the older daughter didn't even have a passport to go abroad so I personally drove her to the consulate. Natasha was easy to find, as she's quite a famous person in Japan. We had a Japanese line producer. She's a very polite person, not from Tokyo, from provinces, and she greets people bowing so politely that many did things for us that they would never do for me or for Anja. So, we gradually reached everyone, including the baseball museum and leading Japanese players. The second part of the process was to get all the archives and figure out how to get into the inner world of someone who was no longer with us. And we chose animation in the visual style of baseball cards from the 1930s-1940s. Initially, we thought that Natasha and Liza could tell the whole story, but then we realized that it was related to America, Japan, Russia, and everywhere a new Victor's side was revealed. That's how we reached Oleg, and from him we learned a lot of interesting things. I was impressed by Oleg's philosophical perspective regarding his relatives in Japan. Their family hadn't met for a hundred years before the film, and for us, filmmakers, that was a unique moment. Generally, I think it's a fairly humanist film, which equally resonates in Japan and Russia today, where you have to learn to remember your history. In Japan, for example, there four films were shot about Starukhin, and everywhere he was shown as a positive character, an athlete, but very little was told about what he had to live through because of the Japanese, although some of them were his very close friends. Indeed, this is a very important film to watch to be aware of one's history".
Oleg Starukhin: "We were all just shocked when the film crew contacted us, and we still can't believe it. It was a great grief for a family to break up. And the film helped us reunite, and we are deeply grateful for that. My great-grandmothers tried not to say anything about those difficult times, they believed that the whole family died during the civil war. My father and grandfather grew up and lived in Tagil and never even mentioned this story".
Anna Shalashina: "Our company engaged in the project from the first days, when Andrey Klimov first brought us this idea. There were long preparations, several stages of shooting, a long editing period, and five years of trying to find partners and money to finish the movie. In Russia, the film will succeed one way or another. After the MIFF we will take part in two more festivals in Russia and we also sold the film to TV3 channel and the Premier online platform, but we can't say when it will be released. We would like to have an international premiere in Asia, in America, and we are working on it, we hope some news will follow".