The 25th Message To Man International Film Festival of Saint Petersburg was an exciting event in every sense. The city was coloured with yellow, red and green leaves showing every possible colour of autumn. And as one can expect from autumn days, some days were cold and rainy, while others were cool but sunny. The city is a bigger version of Amsterdam or Venice, rich with museums, cathedrals and palaces. One could of course not leave Saint Petersburg without visiting the Hermitage museum.
The festival’s programme was teeming with festival favourites. The Palme d’Or winner Dheepan screened as well as the newest films from masters like Weerasethakul, Mendoza, Muntean, Porumboiu and Sokurov. Mustang, the new festival sensation from France (via Turkey) was also in the programme. Retrospectives on Brillante Mendoza, Rudolf Thome, Zelimir Zilnik and Pietro Marcello made the festival programme as rich and fulfilling as that of any other festival.
The international competitions were comprised of full-length documentaries, short documentaries, short fictions, experimental films and short animations. There was also a national competition of documentary films. Of course, one could only concentrate on certain programmes and ours was that of full-length documentaries. As the short documentaries were screened before the full-length features, we had the possibility of watching them as well.
There were certain themes that were common in the documentaries. Immigrants, drug addicts and homeless people were the subjects of many films. The attendance for screenings and the Q&As that followed them was high and lively.
Nastassja Kinski, the dream girl of many men of a certain age, received a lifetime achievement award. The members of this year's international jury were Brillante Mendoza (chairman), Christiane Buechner (documentary filmmaker, festival programmer, professor), Alexander Zeldovich (director and writer), Pietro Marcello (documentarian), Jean Roy (film critic), Andreas Sinanos (director of photography) and Tim Webb (animation director and lecturer). (Cüneyt Cebenoyan, edited by Carmen Gray)
Message to Man International Film Festival Saint Petersburg: