May 21st, 2024

Mexican film wins top prize at Moscow International Film Festival while major studios boycott Russia

By The Associated Press on April 26, 2024.

MOSCOW (AP) – A Mexican film has won the top prize Friday at the Moscow International Film Festival, which took place as major Western studios boycott the Russian market and as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds into its third year.

“Shame,” a film by director Miguel Salgado and co-produced by Mexico and Qatar, was the most highly awarded film at the festival which began in 1935 and which has been held annually since 1999. This year’s edition included more than 240 films from 56 countries.

In his victory speech, Salgado hailed the festival as one of the most important in the world, adding that he was pleased to see his film, a thriller, being shown so widely and that it was a “great gift” to see so many people moved by it.

Festival program director Ivan Kudryavtsev told state news agency ITAR-Tass that more than half the entries this year came from countries whose governments are considered unfriendly to Russia.

After Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022, major studios in the United States and many European countries halted distribution of their films to Russia. The cutoff was a significant blow to Russian movie theaters. Before the conflict started, the country’s cinemas received about 70% of their revenue from Hollywood films, according to news reports.

The festival program included several smaller films from the United States, including “Hundreds of Beavers,” billed as a supernatural tale of a 19th Century fur trapper’s battle with the animals, and “Enter the Clones of Bruce” about the exploitation films that followed the death of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

Movies from other countries opposing the war in Ukraine include Romania, France, Italy and Germany.

The head of the jury for the festival’s main award, the Golden St. George, was Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, from NATO member Iceland, whose “Children of Nature” is the only Icelandic film ever nominated for an Academy Award.

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