The International Debut Film Festival took place at New Holland Island from 26 to 28 July. For this year, the festival was run as a preview, without a competition or jury. The three-day programme involved six feature-length film-screenings, presentations by film schools and meetings with filmmakers. Over the course of the festival, over 54,000 people visited New Holland Island.
The festival opened with a screening of Kirill Mikhanovsky’s Give Me Liberty, a tragicomedy about Russian emigrés in Milwaukee, the USA’s most segregated city. The picture’s St Petersburg premier took place on New Holland Island’s main stage, with the film introduced by its director, co-screenwriter Alice Austen, one of the film’s leading actors, Maxim Stoyanov, and its producer, Valery Abel’.
The festival also featured Russian premiers of the films The Souvenir by Joanna Hogg and Long Day’s Journey into Night by Bi Gan, along with St Petersburg premiers for Alexandr Zolotukhin’s A Russian Youth and Oliver Laxe’s Fire Will Come, which closed the festival. All of the films were introduced by their directors.
Over the course of the festival, New Holland Island was turned into a presentation venue for some of Russia’s leading private film schools, featuring work from graduates of the Moscow Film School, the Marina Razbezhkina and Mikhail Ugarov School of Documentary Cinema and Theatre and the Мoscow and St Petersburg Schools of New Cinema.
The festival also showcased video art by Russian youth, with young artists and graduates from the Moscow Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia presenting their work.
The festival also included educational and informative meetings with filmmakers.
Kirill Mikhanovsky, Alice Austen and Maxim Stoyanov gave a talk on the creative process behind Give Me Liberty, discussing the creative challenges which they had to face, along with more practical questions: financing, filming on a tight budget, and work on set.
Kantemir Balagov presented publicly for the first time the working material from his film Beanpole (which was also screened during the festival), including auditions by the actress Vasilisa Perelygina, digital- and film-camera tests, and also the pre-shoot – preliminary rushes with the main cast and unfinished sets.
The key event on the festival’s first day was the roundtable discussion Reality, prospects and problems for debut cinema in Russia, which gathered together senior figures from major Russian film schools and institutes, leading film producers and a representative from the Russian Ministry of Culture. The discussion covered issues relating to support and financing for debut films, the study environment in private and state film schools, as well as the interaction between these schools, the film industry and the state.
Youth cinema was also discussed over the airwaves at New Holland Island Radio during the festival, with studio guests including programme director Alexey Artamonov, directors Оliver Laxe, Igor Poplaukhin and Petr Levchenko, producer Ilya Stewart, and cameraman Evgeny Rodin.
The next New Holland Island International Debut Film Festival will take place in July 2020, and entries for the competition programme will be accepted until 1 May 2020.