site.btaUPDATED Theodore Ushev Turns Down Jury Award at Moscow Film Festival
The feature film Phi1.618 by Bulgarian-Canadian Oscar-nominated director Theodore Ushev won the Silver Saint George Special Award of the Jury at the 45th Moscow International Film Festival, according to information on the festival's website.
In a video speech posted on Facebook, Ushev announced his decision to decline the honour. In the English part of the half-Russian, half-English speech, he said: "I can't accept this award in a city where orders are issued for the murder of children, women and old people to your brothers - to my brothers. We [Bulgarians and Russians] write in the same letters. And instead of, I think, words like love, joy, happiness, with these letters here they are writing commands to shoot bombs at people who just want to be free. Therefore, it is with great regret that I must refuse to accept this trophy. I want to leave it to you, here in Moscow. I hope Mr Mikhalkov [the Festival President] puts it in his office next to the icon of Saint George to remind you of what is the symbol of it. I believe that peace will come, that good will win the war over evil." At the end of his speech, Ushev said in Bulgarian: "Make films, not war!"
At a news conference on Sunday, after the official media screening of his film, Ushev videoed a message from Los Angeles, arguing that "the war [of Russia against Ukraine] has destroyed Russian culture".
Colombian director and screenwriter Ciro Guerra, a member of the jury, commented: "All of us together decided to confer the Special Award of the Jury on a film we really liked. We want to thank you for your originality, the creative risk, and the outcome."
The jury was chaired by Indian director and producer Rahul Rawail. In addition to Guerra, the other members were Russian actors Aleksey Guskov and Svetlana Ivanova and Kazakh actress Samal Yeslyamova. Celebrated Soviet and Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov is President of the Festival.
About 200 productions from 60 countries were presented at the 45th Moscow International Film Festival. The Golden Saint George for Best Film went to Three Brothers (Chile, Argentina), directed by Francisco J. Paparella.
Montreal-based Theodore Ushev is best known as an animator. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his animated short Blind Vaysha (2016). Phi1.618 is his debut feature film.