The Minsk International Film Festival was the first film festival created in independent Belarus. It was conceived by the director of the Tele-ARS studio Serhey Artimovich. Artimovich wanted to introduce Belarusian audiences to the best films made in the post-Soviet states. The inaugural festival took place in 1994 under the name the Post-Soviet Film Festival Listapad. The word “listapad” translates from Belarusian as “November”. Belarusian actor Rostislav Yankovsky became the first chairman of the festival.
The program of the first edition of Listapad featured mainly works by Russian directors because other post-Soviet countries were still struggling to put their film industry back on track. The best films were selected by a popular vote. Two more awards were awarded by the filmmakers jury and film journalists jury. Over the years, the program has expanded to include works by Ukrainian, Kazakh, Azerbaijani, and other directors. Today, filmmakers from all post-Soviet states participate in the festival.
In 2003, Listapad was officially recognized as an international film festival. That year, films from Russia, Serbia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the USA, China, Japan, and Iran were screened in Minsk. However, the competition was open only to films from certain regions. The winners were selected by the international jury made up of renowned industry professionals (filmmakers, film critics, etc.).
The program of the Minsk International Film Festival is divided into several sections, including the Main Feature Film Competition, National Feature Film Competition, Youth on March (young directors competition), Main Documentary Film Competition, First & Second Documentary Film Competition, and Listapadzik (children and youth film competition). Competitive sections might change from year too year. The festival also features non-competitive screenings, retrospectives, panels and Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, workshops, and other events and activities.
The main prize of the Listapad film festival is the Golden Listapad. It is awarded to the best film selected by the international jury. The Silver Listapad Award is given by the International Press Jury, and the Bronze Listapad is given according to the results of the audience vote.
Photo by Robert Seneka