Azerbaijani films and prestigious festivals

The most influential and major film festivals of the world are selected and approved by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations (FIAPF). Founded in 1933, this federation includes 34 associations from 29 countries. The concept of category “A” festivals, which can still be found in the journalistic dictionary, is conditionally connected with the accreditation issued by the FIAPF. Usually, such festivals are held in countries with a long cinematic tradition. “A” category festivals are considered to be festivals where take part at least 12 full-length films that have not participated in other film festivals, as well as having an international jury and official support at the state level participate. In one country there cannot be more than one “A” category festival. This work is dedicated to the “A” category festivals and Azerbaijani film directors who participated in other famous festivals.


Cannes Film Festival


Hearing the words the word film festival one, first of all, thinks about the city of Cannes. The main prize of the event, which is held in every May, beginning from 1946, is the Golden Palm. From 1946 to 1959, the festival jury consisted only of the French. In 1960, having broken this trend, the Belgian writer Georges Simenon was elected jury president.


The first poster for the festival in 1939 was painted by artist Jean-Gabriel Domergue. But, in connection with the beginning of the Second World War, the festival is not realized. Since the mid-1990s, in order to select the winner, the jury of the festival is going to the residence Villa Domergue, where the artist himself once lived.


The highest award of the festival – Palme d’Or or “Golden Palm” was founded in 1955. That year, the event organizers turned to jewelers to prepare a trophy. The organizers liked the design of the jeweler Lucien Lasone. Since 1997, the Swiss company Chopard has been producing the trophy.


The trophy, which costs 20 thousand euros, is made of 18 carats of gold. Taking into account possible accidents and victories of two films, the organizers order two trophies annually.


The Cannes Film Festival, where about 4,500 journalists participate on average each year, is the second largest media event after the Olympics.


Venice Film Festival


Founded in 1932, the Venice Film Festival is the first film festival in the world. Along with Cannes and Berlin is considered one of the “Big Three”. The Venice Film Festival is part of the Venice Biennale, founded in 1893. The Biennale itself covers such areas as Italian and international art, architecture, dance, music, theater and cinema. The festival is held annually from late August to early September.


Golden Lion, which is the most prestigious award of this festival, was founded in the same year when the film festival began its activities. The winged lion, symbol of the award, once personified the Republic of Venice.


Along with the Golden Lion, the festival presents such awards as the Silver Lion, the Grand Jury Prize and the Special Jury Prize.


The festival is held every year in the 11-km coastal area called Lido. On the day of the festival, world-famous people arrive at the festival site on gondolas through a water channel. Fans and photographers are very fond of this spectacle.


The most memorable events of the festival were the art performance of Salvador Dali in 1961 and the presentation in 1991 Stanley Kubrick`s “Eyes Wide Shut”.


In 2007, the Blue Lion Award was created for homosexual films. In 2007, this award was won by Tom Ford with the film A Single Man, and in 2009 by Al Pacino with the film Wilde Salome.


For various reasons, the lucky figure of the film festival is 7. 7 awards, 7 programs and a jury consisting of 7 members.


Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale)


Released on the world stage of film festivals with the Golden Bear award since 1951, it is considered one of the most significant film festivals in the world. The film festival, which takes place in February of each year, with the sale of more than 300 thousand tickets and the ability to receive up to half a million people, is considered the largest public festival.


In 2019, Israel, for the first time in its history, became the owner of the Golden Bear thanks to the Nadab Lapid`s film “Synonyms.


The most successful laureates of the film festival are the USA (13 winners), France (8 winners), Great Britain and Italy (seven winners each), Germany and Spain (six winners each).


The last time Germany won the film festival in 2004 thanks to the film director Fatih Akin.


Toronto Film Festival


This film festival is different from others in that the best film here is chosen not by the jury, but by the public. This event, founded in 1976, was formerly called the Festival of Festivals. Films that became the best films of other film festivals were shown to the Canadian public thanks to the Toronto Festival Festivals. In 1994, the festival was named the Toronto International Film Festival. The fast-growing film festival in 2007 contributed to the economy of Toronto 67, and in 2011 – 170 million dollars.


The festival annually receives up to 450 thousand people. 1984 is a record for the festival. That year, 460 films were shown at the festival. And in 2016, 400 films were shown in Toronto.


In 1995, the film by Azerbaijani director Rustam Ibragimbekov “Burnt by the Sun” (1994), written in collaboration with screenwriter Nikita Mikhalkov, was awarded the Oscar. Along with this, the film won the Grand Prix of the 47th Cannes Film Festival.


In 2013, at the Locarno Film Festival, a film “Chameleon” by young directors Elvin Adigezyal and Rufat Hasanov was shown.


After 5 years, Elvin’s documentary “Reporting from the Darkness” was included in the list of films that were shown during of FIDMarseille.


Many films directed by Hilal Baidarov, who successfully represent Azerbaijani cinema in the international arena, became participants in famous festivals. In 2019, his film “Unnamed Heights” was shown at the Sharjah Art Foundation. Along with this, this year, H. Baydarov took part in the Berlinale Talents at the Berlin Film Festival.


Also, his film “Birthday” was shown at the Bridge Film Festival in Belgium.


At the Visions Du Reel festival, his film “When Persimmon Matures” won two awards – PRIX INTERRELIGIEUX and MENTION SPÉCIALE JURY COMPÉTITION INTERNATIONALE LONGS MÉTRAGES.


In 2019, the film by Orhan Agazade “The Chairs” was awarded the Potluck award at the International Changing Perspectives Short Film Festival in Turkey.


The premiere of this film at the Brussels Short Film Festival is also scheduled. The film “The Chairs” hit the list of 62 movie premieres, having passed the selection of 4,500 films.


The next premiere of the film, which won three awards at the FESTIVAL CHALON TOUT COURT in April 2019 (Prix de l’image / Association La Bobine / La Bobine Prize), will be at the Oscar and BAFTA qualifying Palm Springs Short film festival!


The film “Salt, Pepper to Taste”, directed by Teymur Hajiyev, will take part in the Rotterdam Film Festival.


An example of one of the international successes of Azerbaijani cinema is Elmar Imanov`s film  “End of Season”. In 2019, the film was awarded the FIPRESCI prize of International Film Festival in Rotterdam.


The full-length film “Night Tide”, directed by Ismail Safarli, competed in July 2017 with 6 other projects for the opportunity to take part in the intensive program of Karlovy Vary.


The documentary film “Holy Cow” of another talented Azerbaijani film director Imam Hasanov won many international awards. The film (2015), which is a product of the joint production of Azerbaijan, Germany and Romania, took part in such international film festivals as IDFA First Appearance Competition, Amsterdam, Hot Docs – “World Showcase”, Toronto, One World and Prague Film Festival.


Shot in 2017 by the young Azerbaijani film director Natig Rasulov, the short film “The Second Bullet”, in the same year took part in the Busan Short Film Festival and the Kiev International Film Festival.


Filmed in 2014 by director Asif Rustamov, the film “Downstream” is one of the local films that have achieved the greatest success at foreign film festivals. The film was awarded the following awards – the “Silver Remy” of the Houston Film Festival, the “Special Accent Award” of the Austrian International Film Festival Let’sCee, and the “Best Debut” of the Los Angeles International Film Festival SEEfest. Along with this, the film “Downstream” took part in film festivals in such countries as Italy, Mexico, India and the Czech Republic.

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