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Taste-based decisions prevail during selection for international film festivals — director

Inclusion of any movie into any program of an international film festival cannot be considered a criterion of its quality, Alexander Sokurov noted
Alexander Sokurov Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Alexander Sokurov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. Decisions made out of personal taste often prevail during the selection stage of international film festivals, and inclusion of a picture into a program of any festival cannot be considered a criterion of quality, says Russian film director, People’s Artist of Russia, Alexander Sokurov. According to the director, the inclusion of a movie to a film festival program only indicates that a certain conjuncture has formed around the picture.

"This is a specialized topic. Of course, taste-based decisions prevail. But, I have noticed that, in the vast majority of movie festivals, the competence of the selection panel is much higher than the professionalism of the jury. The jury chairman is a separate topic entirely. Usually, this figure is ‘political.’ Oftentimes, a movie proposed by the selection panel has zero chance of winning - it’s simply too good for this particular festival, which is not interested in the art of the cinema at all," Sokurov said, answering a question on how movies enter international festivals’ competitions.

Sokurov underscored that inclusion of any movie into any program of an international film festival cannot be considered a criterion of its quality.

"Usually, this speaks nothing about either the film’s content or the craftsmanship. This only tells that, currently, a certain conjuncture has established around this movie - someone was quick enough to put in a good word, someone has ties to the festival’s management, and someone has relations with the selective panel. I have presided over juries at several international festivals, and I know that the fight in the professional environment is real, there is neither peace nor harmony," the director noted.

According to Sokurov, Russia offers only "good, meaningful" movies to the global movie space because "nobody needs" Russian commercial movies abroad. "On the other hand, I must say that our movies feature artistic shyness, professional shyness, and, to a significant degree, professional and technical backwardness. Small budgets and unknown, sometimes not very well performing actors, and so on. This is a weak side of our cinema; we lack ideas, we definitely lack the diversity of forms," Sokurov said, adding that such movies sometimes enter major festivals "out of leniency".

Alexander Sokurov is a triple laureate of the Russian State Award, laureate of the Triumf and Nika awards, as well as a number of foreign awards. In 2011, he received a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his movie "Faust".