History Of Listapad


Minsk International Film Festival «Listapad»

For 28 years already every November in Minsk is determined by film screenings. From the art-house novelties to the classics of the intellectual cinema. From the best of the world box office to the retrospective screenings of the Belarusian directors. Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad” was conceived as an annual exam for the cinema of the entire post-Soviet space. But for almost three decades it has grown noticeably and matured turning from a local event into a common holiday for the cinema fans from all over the world.

Opening ceremony of MIFF Listapad 2009
Opening ceremony of the Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad-2009”. Photograph : Publishing House “Belarus Today”.

Time for Good Movie

In the early 1990s, the need to organize their own forum was vivid for everyone who was related to the world cinema. The festival was necessary primarily for the audience, for which post-Soviet cinema remained much more than just cinema. For filmmakers who were connected not only by creative, but also by long-term friendly relations. For young actors, in those difficult years many changed their profession, because even those who were very talented were not hired. For the Cinemas and “Belarusfilm” for which the festival has become a breath of fresh air and in many ways an escape.

In 1994 when the Minsk Film Forum has just started festival films practically were not shown after the festival. This means that viewers had only a week for the exclusive film opportunities – watching feature and documentary novelties collected (largely thanks to friendly cinematic relations) from all over the post-Soviet space.

Nikita Mikhalkov became the first winner of the Minsk festival. The main prize went to his experimental documentary “Anna. From 6 to 18”. The master starred his daughter Anna Mikhalkova, who for 12 years answered the same father’s questions. The director combined the girl’s answers with the chronicle of those years. Many events pass through the prism of little Anna’s answers: the death of the General Secretaries: Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko, perestroika, collapse of the Soviet Union…

The audience was already waiting and anticipating every next “Listapad”. And the festival didn’t fail: it expanded the program, became more generous with statuettes and diplomas, invited world known cinematographes.

Opening of MIFF Listapad 2009
Opening of the MIFF “Listapad-2009” Photograph: Publishing House “Belarus Today”.

For the Chairman of “Listapad”, Rostislav Yankovsky, those autumn film screenings were largely a family holiday. His brother Oleg (sometimes with his son Philipp) and Rostislav’s elder son Igor came from Moscow…But no matter how warm and heartfelt the first forums were, Yankovsky already understood that the festival should primarily reflect current processes in the cinema and that it shouldn’t be just a corporate holiday. So having finally defined and clarified the concept of the forum, the organizing committee sent letters with request for support to the Minsk City Executive Committee and the Presidential Administration. It was impossible to make a real, big film festival without the help of the State. And President Alexander Lukashenko supported the forum. But with the condition: the emphasis and special attention should focus not only on preserving the traditions and cinematic heritage that our country was famous for but also on developing international cultural ties. With this parting message “Listapad” gradually gained weight: from now on every November Minsk began to live together with the best works of world cinema.

For all those years the festival is still being held under the patronage of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. On his behalf a special prize is awarded to “the film figures of the highest standard”.

Producer Oleg Sytnik and Gennady Davydko 2013
The Chairman of the Film Festival Gennady Davydko is presenting a special prize of the President of Belarus “For Humanism and Spirituality in Cinema”. On the photo: producer Oleg Sytnik and Gennady Davydko, 2013. Photograph: Publishing House “Belarus Today”.

Movies with a Festival Focus

Many of the films presented at the forum come to Minsk with prizes and awards from the world’s largest festivals. “Listapad” took a course for international rapprochement many years ago: to show the audience all the best that was shot over the past few seasons. The forum organizers do their best so that the main festival favorites of the film forums are included in the programs of competition and out of competition screenings.

But unlike “Mostra” or the Berlinale, the Minsk festival is still for the audience, not for the distributors or the establishment. Tickets for the main festival days are always on sale. And any common person from the audience can get an autograph or even exchange a few words with famous guests. Over the years Andrey Zvyagintsev, Fanny Ardant, Ornella Muti, Krzystof Zanussi, Vladimir Menshov, Armand Assante, Emir Kusturica stars of the truly planetary scale were the festival guests in Minsk.

Guests of the festival Georgy Zhzhenov and Georgy Grechko 2004
Minsk City Hall. Festival quests Georgy Zhzhenov, People’s Artist of the USSSR and Georgy Grechko, twice hero of the Soviet Union, cosmonaut, 2004. Photograph: Publishing House “Belarus Today”.

All “Listapad” Gold

Sincere, hospitable, with a cozy atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate pathos and hypocrisy “Listapad” has long been the heart of the Slavic cinema world. It is the last one in the calendar schedule of the big festivals, so its mission is special: to close the film season and show all the best that has been shot over the past years. But “Listapad” is not only a competition of films that are marked by the audience at home and prestigious festival abroad. First of all it is a cinema holiday. The competition program includes only the winners and the participants of various international festivals. The jury consists of famous masters and talented newcomers. “Listapad” is one of the brands that make Belarus famous all over the world. With a respectable gloss and special European sophistication. With an atmosphere of friendship and real Belarusian hospitality. It was, is and remains one of the most representative film forums in the post-Soviet space and favorite for thousands of viewers.

Vakhtang Kikabidze at the press conference Listapad-2010
Georgian actor Vakhtang Kikabidze at a press conference of Listapad - 2010. On the right: In 2010 the first deputy minister of culture of Belarus, now the General Producer of the Film Festival Vladimir Karachevsky. Photograph: Publishing house "Belarus Today".
Tatiana Doronina at the MIFF Listapad-2009
People's Artist of the USSR Tatiana Doronina at the Minsk International Film Festival Listapad - 2009. Photograph: Publishing House “Belarus Today”.
Juozas Budraitis at the closing ceremony of the Listapad-2013 film festival
People's Artist of the Lithuanian SSR Juozas Budraitis at the closing ceremony of the Film Festival - 2013. Photograph: Publishing House “Belarus Today”.
Emir Kusturitsa is a guest of honor of Listapad-2010
Director Emir Kusturica is the guest of honor at “Listapad” - 2010. Photograph : Publishing House “Belarus Today”.
Cinema Moscow Listapad-2014
Cinema “Moscow”. "Listapad - 2014. Photograph : Publishing House “Belarus Today”.

The 28th edition of MIFF «LISTAPAD» was held November 4-11, 2022