Spirit of Fire Film Festival in Khanty-Mansiysk Addresses Development of Northern Film Industry

Participants in the Spirit of Fire Film Festival, which took place on 3–6 March in Khanty-Mansiysk, discussed prospects for the development of ethnic cinema and the film industry in northern Russia. The business programme events were part of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, which are managed by the Roscongress Foundation.

“The Spirit of Fire Festival is one of the largest Russian film screenings. The competition programme features films from all over the country and another 16 countries. A key part of the festival is cinema with a definitive ethnic specificity. This year, the Spirit of Fire had a business platform where topical issues in the film industry were discussed, and ethnic cinema rightfully turned out to be in the business bloc’s centre of attention,” said Anton Kobyakov, an adviser to the Russian president and executive secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

The main goal of the film festival was to promote the cultural and historical heritage of the Indigenous peoples of the North in the film industry. The business programme included the plenary session ‘The Cinema of Tomorrow: Industry Partnership and Ethnocultural Diversity’, the sessions ‘Ethnic Cinema with an Arctic Flavour. A Modern Miracle’, ‘The Arctic: New Opportunities for Distributing Ethnic Cinema in Russia’, and ‘Cinema Beyond the Arctic Circle: An Urban Hot Spot’, which was dedicated to the exchange of experience in promoting ethnic cinema around the world and in the regions of the Russian North. In addition, two events that were attended by representative delegations from India and the United Arab Emirates took place in a new format of film dialogues for the festival. ‘Russia–India. Overlapping Points of Mutual Interest’ and ‘Russia–UAE. Prospects for Co-production and the Exchange of Experience in Creating International Projects’.

“Russia’s main priority in the Arctic is the sustainable development of this region with constant attention being paid to the interests and needs of the entire population living there, including the Indigenous peoples of the North. We are happy to see the interest of non-Arctic countries in cooperation in the Arctic. In its policy in high latitudes, Russia proceeds from the assumption that the sustainable development of the Arctic territories can only be ensured on the basis of dialogue and constructive cooperation among all interested parties,” Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Arctic Senior Officials Nikolay Korchunov said.

The festival’s business programme also included an educational laboratory and master classes that aim to expand the knowledge and skills of Russian students in the film industry.

Over 700 people took part in the events of the festival’s business block. More than 35 speakers spoke at the sessions of the business programme. In addition, the number of visitors to the multimedia exhibition ‘Artists Inspired by the Arctic. Artists Born in the North’ exceeded 500 people. The exhibition was part of the audio-visual project ‘Soul of Russia. The North’, which was timed to coincide with Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023 with the support of the Roscongress Foundation.

“The business programme essentially provided the Spirit of Fire with a new communication platform to study the best experience of the modern film industry. This year, we placed great emphasis on the film dialogue with India, which will expand the region’s opportunities for film production, create a system for supporting film projects, and support the development of young talents,” Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District – Yugra Governor Natalya Komarova said.

The five sessions of the business programme and two film dialogues generated more than 3.5 million views, and almost 70,000 people read posts on the festival’s VKontakte page. Telegram posts reached more than 500,000 people. The social network VKontakte is the partner for broadcasting the events of the film festival.

Russia is the chair of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. One of Russia’s main priorities is to develop human capital in the region, including the Indigenous peoples of the North. Russia devotes special attention to maintaining the sustainability and viability of the peoples of the North, promoting measures to adapt them to climate change, improving people’s well-being, health, education, and quality of life, and ensuring sustainable socioeconomic development throughout the region. The Russian side has initiated projects to digitalize the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Indigenous peoples of the North, develop renewable energy sources, create an international Arctic research station that runs on carbon-free energy, and ensure biosecurity in the Arctic. In addition, Russia is preparing draft proposals on the traditional medicine of Indigenous peoples and the development of creative industries in the Arctic, and is working on an initiative to create Digital Museums of the Arctic.