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Winners of the Gazprom Neft-Sponsored 2019 XVII International “Spirit of Fire” first-time film-makers’ festival announced

The 2019 XVII “Spirit of Fire” cinematography festival for first-time filmmakers has come to a close in Khanty-Mansiysk. Gazprom Neft has been the general sponsor of the festival since 2007, supporting the event as part of its “Home Towns” corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

Running from March 1–6, the festival audience were shown 170 films, from 25 countries, with the jury awarding the “Golden Taiga” (the festival’s main prize) to director Virgil Verne (France) for “Sophia Antipolis”. The Silver Taiga went to “Dead Horse Nebula” by Tarik Aktas, Turkey, and the Bronze Taiga to two films — Paula Romina’s debut “Again Once Again” (Argentina) and “Adam and Evelyn” by Andreas Goldstein (Germany).

A special prize, established by Gazprom Neft, for “Supporting Cultural Traditions”, was awarded to Yamal-based director Zanida Longortova for her film “Hon Yosh — the Way from the Ob” — the first ever film to be shot in the Khanty language, and based on the real-life story of local Khanty family the Khartaganovs, who succeeded in adopting and raising seven orphans despite the hardships of wartime.

The key theme in the 2019 festival was theatre and cinema, with the show programme opening with a benefit performance of “Stikhovareniye” featuring Julia Peresild, Alisa Grebenshchikova and Dmitry Khrustalev, together with a performance by the Yugra World Cinema Music Orchestra, supported by Gazprom Neft, featuring modern arrangements of popular soundtracks from international and Russian cinema.

The traditional Chitalkin-project gala concert took place on March 3, involving young readers from Khanty-Mansiysk, Orenburg, Tomsk, Muravlenko and Noyabrsk putting on a proper literature show, with the aspiring actors supported by Arina Danilova, Kirill Skripnik and Yaroslav Degtyarev, stars from the “Voice.Children” project.

On the same day Gazpromneft-Khantos volunteers, together with the best “Chitalkini (Young Readers)” held master classes on stage skills for children being cared for by the local social centre, before staging a series of their own plays, together with the children.

Alexander Dybal, Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications, Gazprom Neft, commented: “Yugra is a key region for our company, and the Spirit of Fire festival is the region’s most important cultural event. Our festival has a genuinely original format — of showing directors’ debut films. Being involved in organising an event like this is a real honour, and a real responsibility. We will continue to support the festival’s development, appreciating, as we do, its crucial role in the cultural life of the region. The ‘Home Towns’ CSR programme is moving forward in conjunction with the Spirit of Fire festival, and is bringing a whole new quality to the urban environment for Yugra locals.”
Alexander Dybal
Alexander Dybal Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications, Gazprom Neft
Notes for editors

The “Spirit of Fire” international cinematography festival for first-time filmmakers has been held in Khanty-Mansiysk every year since 2003. People’s Artist of the Russian Federation Sergei Solovyov, a script writer, producer and teacher, is president of the festival. Gazprom Neft has been the General Partner to the cinematography forum since 2007, instituting a special prize “For Supporting Cultural Traditions” in 2013.

The Gazprom Neft “Home Towns” CSR programme is one of the most successful and best-known local development programmes offered by Russian businesses. Small-scale voluntary initiatives, local celebrations, and major international festivals — whatever their size and scale, all Home Towns initiatives have one thing in common: trying to make the world a better place. Gazprom Neft is working to create conditions in which people get the most from living in their home towns and villages, by improving local neighbourhoods and supporting sport, education and culture.

The “Chitalkin” initiative is a major inter-regional project covering several areas in which Gazprom Neft operates. The project involves a competition for young readers, the best of whom are given the opportunity to become heroes on the popular “Chitalkin” YouTube channel. 2018 saw this creative competition taking place in Orenburg, Khanty-Mansiysk, Muravlenko, Tomsk and Noyabrsk. The project is directed at encouraging reading among children and young people, and developing their creative abilities.