A pair of short films about the Russian winter have picked up three prizes between them at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. Both Zima and The Green Serpent were part of the Cinetrain project, a biennial project that brings together young filmmakers from around the world to travel across Russia by train and make short films. This year 25 filmmakers took part in the competition to create films about the Russian winter that challenged stereotypes about the country.
Zima, a portrait of winter in northern Siberia by Italian filmmaker Cristina Picchi, was awarded the Pardino d’argento Swiss Life for the International Competition and the Premio Pianifica. The film tells the story of a journey from Murmansk to Irkutsk, capturing life in some of the world’s harshest climates along the way. “Zima isn’t documentary or fiction, it’s a beautiful work of art,” said a member of the Locarno jury.
The Green Serpent, a Swiss-Russian co-production by Benny Jaberg, picked up the Swiss Critics Boccalino Award. The experimental film follows the various states of euphoria and depression induced by drinking vodka.
“This is pretty amazing, and for several reasons: first of all, almost 3,000 short films were submitted to Locarno, out of which 25 were selected for the international competition and Zima took two awards out of three for this competition,” says a statement on the Cinetrain website. “Considering that Cristina and Benny were selected among 200 other directors to participate in Cinetrain: Russian Winter, we can say that chance has nothing to do with it and that talent will always find its way.”