The Moscow International Film Festival is among the oldest in the world. For the first time it was held in 1935 and the Jury was headed by great Sergei Eisenshtein himself, but the chronology of the festival begins in 1959, when it became a regular event. It is significant that the rebirth of the Moscow International Film Festival occurred in the 60s of the past century, at the time of the Thaw, when cinema experienced the influx of a new generation of directors, whose spiritual experience was shaped under the influence of the great victory over fascism.
Over the past decades the renown and influence of the Moscow Festival on the world filmmaking process have grown significantly. Prizes were awarded to outstanding masters of world cinema – Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kramer, Federico Fellini and Ettore Scola, Andrzej Wajda and Francesco Rosi, Krzysztof Zanussi and Damiano Damiani, Gleb Panfilov and Sergei Gerasimov, Bernard Blier and Alexandr Rogozhkin. The MIFF paved the way for filmmakers who later became known throughout the world like Istvan Szabo and Kaneto Shindo, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Aki Kaurismaki, Kohei Oguri and Humberto Solas. In 2012 the honorary prize for contribution to world cinema went to the American film director Tim Burton. The Moscow Festival honoured remarkable representatives of the acting profession. Over the years the prize “I Believe. Konstantin Stanislavsky” for acting achievements was awarded to Jack Nicholson and Jeanne Moreau, Meryl Streep and Harvey Keitel, Fanny Ardant and Daniel Olbrychski, Gerard Depardieu and Oleg Yankovsky, Isabelle Huppert , Emmanuelle Beart and Helen Mirren. In 2012 this prize was awarded to the outstanding French actress Catherine Deneuve.
The festival has always mirrored the socio-political changes taking place in our country, our tempestuous modern history has always aroused the interest of numerous guests from all over the world. Our Festival is intended not merely for professionals and journalists, but also for the wide audience. Today leading foreign film corporations aim at staging premier screenings of movies in our country, concluding that Russia offers one of the most promising viewing potentials in the world. The film market, which in 2012 took place in the “Radisson-Slavianskaya” hotel as part of the MIFF, strengthened its positions and attracted a lot of interest on the part of the distributors.
More than 200 guests attended the 34th MIFF. Among them were famous filmmakers, correspondents, film critics. The number of journalists accredited at the festival has been steadily growing and long ago crossed the two thousand mark. The diverse program offered to the festival guests comprised 222 films from fifty countries of the world.
The competition section with its wide geography included films by outstanding and well-known masters of cinema (István Szabó, Aku Louhimies, Andrei Proshkin, Renata Litvinova, Ferzan Ozpetek) and interesting first-timers. Some of the films which participated in competition at the MIFF went on to become box-office hits like “Soulless”, which was the opening movie of the Festival (directed by Roman Prygunov) and became one of the top-grossing Russian films of 2012. Other Russian movies in competition also fared well at the box-office, like “The Horde” (dir. Andrei Proshkin) and “Rita’s Last Fairytale” (dir. Renata Litvinova). Besides competition screenings the MIFF program included several interesting retrospective sections devoted to the history of Russian and world cinema. The Moscow audience rediscovered such classics of world cinema as the Brazilian patriarch Hector Babenco, the star of South-East art house cinema from Hong Kong Yonfan, the American classic Ernst Lubitsch. Their retrospectives were also part of the Festival. Viewers showed a lot of interest in other special programs like “10 Decades of German Cinema”, “Universal Pictures Golden Collection”, “What Do You Know about Estonian Animation?” A special place was given to Latin American cinema in the program “Anima Latina”. These screenings were attended by impressive delegations from the respective countries. Among other festival programs were “Eight and a Half Films”, “The Russian Trace”, “ The Third Dimensions”, the documentary program “Free Thought” which was back in competition, “Moving Pictures ”, “Short Film Corner” and others. As usual the program of contemporary Russian cinema, including premier screenings of the most striking films made by our filmmakers over the previous year, aroused a lot of interest.
In 2012 the jury was headed by the Brazilian director Hector Babenco. Among the members of the Jury were prominent filmmakers from different countries: the famous French director and actor Jean-Marc Barr; the Bulgarian director Javor Gardev; Adriana Chiesa di Palma, a producer from Italy; Sergei Loban from Russia. The “Perspectives” Jury was chaired by the filmmaker Marina Razbezhkina (Russia). The program director of the Festival is Kirill Razlogov.
For many years now the President of the Festival has been the Russian director and actor Nikita Mikhalkov.