In the run-up to the ceremony, the President of the Festival, Head of the Russian Filmmaking Union Nikita Mikhalkov hosted the traditional briefing where he spoke about the Festival and took journalists' questions. This year, the MIFF will feature 245 films from over 45 countries, he said, also mentioning that "the new team has done a decent job in a tight time frame".
The Festival will also present a special screening of Nikita Mikhalkov's experimental documentary "The Film that Went Wrong" where he will tell about his unsuccessful film "Remembering Chekhov" of 1993.
The opening ceremony of the 44th Moscow International Film Festival took place in the Rossiya Theater. The Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova, Jury members and MIFF contestants walked down the red carpet leading to the theater, together with the film crew of the Festival's opening film "Land of Legends": Anton Megerdichev, Elena Yerbakova, Sergei Puskepalis, Elena Panova, Islam Zafesof, Sergei Astakhov (cameraman), Igor Tolstunov (producer). They were also joined by Tatiana Mikhalkova, Svetlana Druzhinina, Anatoly Mukasey, Konstantin Khabensky, Sergey Burunov, Dmitry Dyuzhev, Alena Babenko, Nikita Efremov, Sofia Kashtanova, Yanina Studilina, Anna Kotova-Deryabina, Maria Lobanova, Nikita Volkov and other guests.
The ceremony began with a statement by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Olga Lyubimova. She read out the welcome message of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
"The MIFF opening is always a major, anticipated event in the cultural agenda of our country and internationally. Thanks to bright premieres and retrospective screenings of world masterpieces, participation of renowned filmmakers and talented debutants, the Festival consistently draws the broad attention of experts, connoisseurs, and film art fans", said the Russian Head of State in his message.
Olga Lyubimova thanked the organizers and guests of the Festival.
At the end of her statement, Olga Lyubimova asked for a minute's silence to mourn Darya Dugina who had died tragically several days before. The statement was followed by a video clip featuring the films of Andrei Tarkovsky whose 90th birthday is celebrated this year, to the accompaniment of the musical ensemble the Kolokol.
The actor Andrey Merzlikin was the host of the ceremony. He presented all out-of-competition programs of the Festival and the contestants of the short-film competition, which will include 18 films this year. The Italian director Michael Zampino, the Russian actress Aleksandra Rebenok and the Indian director Kuldip Patel will judge this part of the program.
The main competition will feature 13 films this year. The jury included the producer and marketing expert from South Africa Tandy Davis, the cinematographer and director Hayk Kirakosyan, the Russian director Andrey Kravchuk, and the Iranian filmmaker Rasoul Sadrameli. The head of the jury is actor and art director of the State Theater of Nations Yevgeny Mironov.
MIFF President Nikita Mikhalkov walked to the stage to welcome the jury of the main competition and thanked them for the work ahead along with the guests and the crew of the Festival including the MIFF General Producer Leonid Vereshchagin whose birthday coincided with the date of the Festival's opening.
Nikita Mikhalkov then addressed the guests of the ceremony. “It is very important that we feel, here and in the country in general, that the lack our help, at least internally, makes it very hard for those who are working to build a new world, a new country”, he said. “I understand there are quite many people here in the hall thinking that the past will come back. Well, the past is not going to happen again. Never. Accepting this seriously is very important. And what will be next depends on those who come to understand that the past won’t come back. We can do it. It is our responsibility. Because we see the attempts to abolish the Russian culture, humiliate any person with a Russian passport, regardless of nationality, and we must understand that helping is only possible if we support ourselves”.
He then traditionally handed over Saint George the Victorious chain to the head of the jury Yevgeny Mironov. They jointly declared open the 44th Moscow International Film Festival. In his comments on the jury's work, Yevgeny Mironov quoted Federico Fellini's words and wished that all the jury members deeply feel the moment they meet with "the real cinema and the gems, which will become part of the history of the Moscow Festival and the entire world filmmaking".
This year, Yevgeny Mironov has been honored to give the special prize of excellence in acting and the commitment to the principles of K. S. Stanislavsky's school "So I Believe. Konstantin Stanislavsky".
"This is my partner and friend, a representative of the great Saint Petersburg school. He is taking ownership in the acting profession and has many awards. But it seemed to him that his contribution was insufficient and then he started traveling through towns and villages and working with the youth, and this is how he launched the Feathering initiative where kids learn to stay open to the world. He set up a charity fund, he is saving people. And they believe him. Lately, he has taken the leadership of a prominent theater, he came to a place where he needed to engage, lead and inspire a very big theatrical troupe. And they trusted him. I regret that we met at a shooting stage just once. But you know how the saying goes: "I would go scouting with him". Well, now I know I can fly into space with him. I checked it. Because I believe", said Mironov about the prize laureate actor Konstantin Khabensky.
In his turn, Khabensky confessed he had not been ready to accept such an honorable prize before that moment.
"I understand what people stood on the stage of the Moscow International Film Festival, people of which accomplishments and professional talents held prizes in their hands. Honestly, I am hell of a happy person to be one of these people and again, to be honest, I am deeply awkward for what is happening before my friends, partners, and colleagues. But I will accept this prize as an upfront recognition of what I might further do in filmmaking. I am still serving in the Moscow Art Theater, which pursues "the Believing" concept, so I am receiving this prize for both of us. I wish the Festival quality films, new discoveries, thankful spectators and nice weather, and I wish all of us to stay healthy", said Konstantin Khabensky.
The ceremony ended with a presentation of the new MIFF competition "The Russian Premieres" judged by the director Ivan Tverdosvky, the producer Petr Anurov and the director Sergey Ursulyak, and the documentary competition, which will feature 11 films from around the globe. The documentary competition will be judged by the filmmakers Vladimir Tyulkin (Kazakhstan), Natalia Guguyeva (Russia), and the head of the jury U-Wei Bin Haji Saari.
Mercury Jewellery – certified partner of the 43rd Moscow International Film Festival.
Mercury Jewellery becomes a partner of the Moscow International Film Festival, continuing the tradition of supporting the most significant cultural events in Russia.
Mercury Jewellery created the main prizes of the film festival – figurines depicting St. George riding a silver horse, striking a dragon with a spear. The figure of the «Golden George» is made of gold plated silver and the figure of the «Silver George» is made of silver. The base of the figurine is made of a blue elvan stone, on which the golden Mercury logo is.
«Golden George» is awarded for «The best film of the competition program» and «For contribution to the world cinema». The winners in seven nominated programs are awarded «Silver George».
As a mark of respect and recognition of the special chairman’s jury role of the Moscow International Film Festival, Mercury Jewellery has created a chain with three gold plated silver medallions depicting the main symbols of Moscow – the Spasskaya Tower, St. Basil's Cathedral and St. George.
A special prize for conquering the peaks of acting and fidelity to school of K. S. Stanislavsky principles «I believe. Konstantin Stanislavsky» has the original design.
Mercury Jewellery brand is known for its elegant and classic jewelry design, high-quality gemstones with international certification, as well as the skillful work of its gemologists, gemsetters and goldsmiths. All Mercury jewels are made of gold and gemstones: diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The brand's collection proudly contains unique precious stones and high jewellery pieces. All gemstones are internationally certified, the jewellery is accompanied by a Mercury’s certificate of authenticity.
The streaming service of exclusive online premieres START is again a partner of the festival; it offers original TV series and films in Russian by subscription to users all over the world. All films and series on START are available anywhere in the world without advertising and additional payments, in Full HD and 4K quality, on all platforms, including the START.RU website, mobile devices and Smart TVs. Owners of iOS and Android devices can download their favorite content and enjoy it on the road, even without Internet access. New users have 7 days of free access. The service was founded by the studio Yellow, Black and White.