Russian gay film wins London prize

Russian gay film wins London prize
A still from Winter Journey

18 November 2013

Winter Journey, a gay love story directed by Sergei Taramaev and Liubov Lvova, has won the inaugural London Lion Award for Best Film at the Russian Film Festival in London. The film tells the story of the love between a classical singer and a homeless petty criminal unfolding on the streets of Moscow.

Accepting the award, revered cinematographer Mikhail Krichman said: “This award is quite unexpected. We had no hope after a long string of disappointments and refusals. Now this could help us to promote the film.”

In regard to the prospect of distribution in Russia after fears the film would not get a permit from the Ministry of Culture, he added: “We have recently made some positive progress in getting the film on to screens in Moscow and possibly elsewhere.”

Krichman is Russia’s most acclaimed cinematographer, working on all of Andrei Zvyanginstev’s films including The Return and Elena, as well as receiving a Golden Ossella at Venice in 2010 for Alexei Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls. He represented the directors in London — they were unable to receive visas for the UK in time.

Special Commendations were also awarded to Kirill Serebrennikov for his direction of Betrayal and to Maria Semenova, the lead actress in Shame, a dark drama that follows the wives of submariners in the far north of Russia. The Audience Choice Award went to Alexander Veledinsky's The Geographer Drank Away His Globe, the screen adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name by Alexei Ivanov.

The judging panel for the 7th edition of the London Russian Film Festival was made up of Jos Stelling, a Dutch filmmaker; Robbie Collin, chief film critic for The Daily Telegraph; Chris Curling, producer of Tolstoy biopic The Last Station; Catherine Bray, a writer and broadcaster; and Iain McLeod, a film booker for Empire Cinemas.