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The winners of the 7th International Film Festival ‘Breaking Down Barriers’

The closing ceremony for the 7th International Film Festival ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ was held on November 17 at the October movie theater.

Those attending the closing ceremony were the first to learn which films had been selected as prize winners by the jury, headed by film director Vadim Abdrashitov.

MacropolisThe festival's Grand Prix went to an animated short, Macropolis, by British director Joel Simon. This straightforward cartoon told the story of a toy cat and dog made from defective parts who nevertheless managed to find a child who loved them. Macropolis brought tears to the eyes of both adults and children in the audience.

The RideThe prize for the best full-length documentary went to the Australian film The Ride. American reporter and documentary film director Jon Alpert presented this award: “People with disabilities are the most significant minority in Russia, as well as in the United States,” he said. “These films help us better understand these people and their contributions to society. And society becomes stronger and better when all of its members have equal opportunities to make contributions. I was happy to have had the chance to watch all these very good films.”

A Cold LandThe jury named A Cold Land from Iranian director Shariar Porseyedian as best short documentary. Presenting this award, documentary film director and jury member Andrei Osipov said, “There are a number of barriers and obstacles in our world that people with disabilities must overcome to fit in. And this festival is part of overcoming such barriers. It’s also a call for us to be more attentive to each other, and to value other people more.” 

BastionFrancis and AnnieJames Doolan, a British actor with autism, was named best actor for his work in Bastion, by Ray Jacobs. Tracie Sammut, an Australian actress with Down Syndrome, won best actress for her performance in Francis and Annie, by Genevieve Clay-Smith. “When you watch these films, you reevaluate your own life and your own problems…I’m thankful to the festival for this intense emotional experience,” said the actress and presenter Polina Kutepova. 

My SweetheartThe best film about love went to the French film My Sweetheart, by Daniel Metge. Gregory Givernaud, who played one of the main characters, received the prize from the distinguished singer Diana Gurtskaya.

My Way to OlympiaThe jury granted My Way to Olympia by German director Niko Glagow the distinction of most uplifting film. 

Maria's JourneyThe best public service announcement award went to Maria's Journey, a film by Spanish artist and director Miguel Gallardo about his daughter, who has autism. Awarding the prize was Vladimir Krupennikov, Member of the State Duma, who noted that, “Film is the most direct means we have to bring our problems to the attention of society.” 

Special NeedsThe best film about intellectual disability (a prize sponsored by Best Buddies Russia) was awarded to Special Needs, a joint German and Italian production. Two Best Buddies participants, Marina and Nastya, presented the prize to Carlo Zoratti, who played the main character.

WrinklesWinning the prize for best film about aging and disability was Wrinkles, a full-length animated film by Spanish director Ignacio Ferreras. Vadim Samorodov, a representative of the Timchenko Foundation, presented the award to producer and scriptwriter Angel De La Cruz.

«После войны»The jury selected After the War, by Yevgeny Golynkin and Veronika Solovyova, as best film about disability rights.

Unknown BeautyThe Iranian film Unknown Beauty by Mahboubeh Honarian was granted the distinction of best film about shattering stereotypes, and Clay won the award for best original content. Jury member and presenter Yevgeniya Montaña Ibañez concluded, “I’m very pleased that I was on the jury of this particular festival, which was so warm and unusual. The organization and organizers themselves are to be admired for their work.”


Be HappyActress and talk show host Olga Shelest presented the prize for audience favorite to Be Happy, by Anton Pogrebnoy.

For the first time, this year’s festival also included a children's jury. It awarded the best film by a child to Clouds from Knopka, a school television studio in Tver region. 

PunkyThe honor of best children's film was presented to the Irish animated Punky, by Gerard O'Rourke. Actors Sergey Druziak and Ivan Gromov presented the prize together with Jannett Bazarova, a young disabled activist who was also a member of the children’s jury. After receiving the award, Aimee Richardson, an Irish actress with Down Syndrome who provided the ‘voice’ of the little girl Punky, entertained the audience by playing melodies of her own composition on the Irish flute. 

InterviewerInterviewer, by Genevieve Clay-Smith and Robin Bryan, was honored as best short feature film. After accepting the prize Gerard O’Dwyer, an Australian actor with Down Syndrome and the film’s main character, performed a short scene from Harry Potter. This year marks the first time guests from Australia and Ireland attended Breaking Down Barriers

Keep RollingFinally, the best feature film award went to Keep Rolling, a joint German and Swiss production by Stefan Hillebrand. Presenting the award to Bastian Wurbs, one of the film’s actors, actress Irina Bezrukova said: “Even though these films sometimes touch on tragedy, they manage to create a positive feeling…I learned a lot about people with disabilities and I have to say I’d be interested in acting in a film on this topic.” 

In his closing remarks, Vadim Abdrashitov concluded, “I think these films should be shown not only at this festival, but every day on national television, imparting tolerance, understanding, and concern for other people to viewers…Viewers shouldn’t only see action heroes, but other people whose courage and strength elicit our admiration.”

In her address at the festival, Perspektiva director Denise Roza noted two more films, Notes on Blindness and Just As I Remember, which received the awards for best cinematography and for courage in self-exploration, respectively. “I was so pleased to hear from members of the audience and from people who traveled to our festival that they were very happy. If our festival was an emotional and rewarding learning experience for them, then we have achieved our goals,” said Ms. Roza. “Now we’d like to ensure that viewers in other Russian regions have the chance to see them and learn about the lives of people with disabilities.” 

“Breaking Down Barriers” is the only film festival in Russia where all screenings are accompanied by audio description and subtitles in Russian, and all discussions are translated into sign language.  

Photographer: Olga Maximova

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