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'In Siberia… the land is richly blessed and all that is needed is to make the most of it'

Cannes? No, Kansk!

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13 October 2017


Retro movie making equipment exhibition. Picture: Natalya Kobets

The Kansk Festival was founded in 2002 after the organisers were so amused by the resemblance of the Siberian city's name to world famous Cannes in France - with a distance of mere 8,000 km between them - that they chose it as a venue.  

The festival is indeed international as this year more than a hundred applications were submitted and the final was reached by 23 short films from 16 countries (Belarus, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Israel, Canada, Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia, the USA, the Philippines, France, Croatia, Estonia, South Korea, Japan), and one planet Malgaut.

'When I arrived to Siberia, I remembered what the school teacher told us at the geography class, and was looking around with a great interest - where is the taiga, where the tundra is,' says the director from Germany Evy Schubert, a jury member of the festival and the laureate of last year.

'I even went to the Kansk-Yeniseisky train station to see the Trans-Siberian Railway. Standing on the railway and realizing how many kilometers it has stretched both to the left and to the right is really impressive.'

The International Kansk Festival

The International Kansk Festival

The International Kansk Festival
An idea to hold a festival in Kansk was born as a joke sixteen years ago. Pictures: Natalya Kobets

An idea to hold a festival in Kansk was born as a joke sixteen years ago: a group of Moscow television directors found the city of Kansk on the map and decided that it would be quite interesting to host a film festival there.

In Russian adjectives derived from Kansk and Cannes differ only by one letter 'n', but the difference in events is much greater: the south of France and the center of Siberia, commercial cinema and art films, the Golden Palm Branch and the Golden Palm Pruner as the main prize.

'The pruner is a brutal object, related to the Russian way of life, to farming at our dachas, and to artistic creativity, too,' says art director of the festival Nadezhda Bakuradze.

'Many believe that being an artist is effortless and fun. In fact, it’s a hard work, which is often unpaid. This makes a pruner an excellent symbol.' 

Kansk is to celebrate its 400th anniversary soon

For the past sixteen years the Kansk festival has turned from the video forum into a whole series of events.

Now this relatively small Trans-Siberian town hosts not only screening of short films, there is also an architecture festival with exhibitions, discussions and master classes, and a literary festival where authors of modern plays do open readings and rehearsals with the participation of all comers.

According to the festival’s hosts, Kansk is a powerful source of inspiration. It was founded as a fortress on the bank of the River Kahn (in translation from the Turkic - the blood) almost 400 years ago. 

Russian writer Vladimir Zazubrin, known for criticizing Soviet power - the literary festival 'Zazubrina' is named after him - and the Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, who was the commissar of the Red Army, both used to live here. The Decembrists and Lenin's supporters were often exiled here. Buildings of various eras coexist peacefully on the streets of the city. And finally, here, thousands of miles away from the sea, there is a Cadet Naval School!

So it is a very suitable city for holding a festival of arts.

Especially since there are palm trees here too: in 2008, opposite the city's Drama Theater a covered palm avenue was built.

Sketches of trees were drawn by children from orphanages in Kansk, Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk, so palms are also a kind of an architectural experiment. 



Kansk and the festival's own palm tree valley. Sketches of trees were drawn by children from orphanages in Kansk, Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk. Pictures: Natalya Kobets

This year the theme of the festival was sci-fi: not only thoughts about possible future, but also an analysis of what future architects, artists and writers saw a hundred years ago and which of their fantasies and predictions became reality.

One of the central events of the architectural festival was the interactive exhibition 'Alexei Gastev. Express panorama'.

A hundred years ago, Russian revolutionary, poet and innovator wrote an essay about the prospects of the development of Siberian cities. For example, according to Gastev's view, Kurgan is the kitchen of Siberia, Kuznetsk (Novokuznetsk) is the industrial center of the region, 'Steel City' with powerful industries, and Krasnoyarsk is the brain of Siberia, a major scientific and cultural center.Each visitor of the exhibition had a chance to decide whether his predictions held up.

'Our festival is a confirmation of the thesis 'as you name the boat, so it will float,' says festival's director Pavel Labazov.

'We came up with this theme a year ago, but we did not know where to get money to bring the program to Kansk. And suddenly - for the first time in 16 years! - we have a general sponsor, the Siberian Generating Company, thanks to which we were able to show everything that was planned in Kansk, and we will also be able to take films to other cities of Russia. And this is incredible!

'What’s also incredible is that some screenings were held in the woods, using an inflatable screen. This was done in spite of cold, Siberian-style — during the festival in the evenings it was just above zero — members of the audience were sitting on a wooden bench, wrapped up in blankets, and drinking herbal tea.


The interactive exhibition 'Alexei Gastev. Express panorama'. Picture: Natalya Kobets

'During outdoor movie screenings we all have realized that heat is very important in Siberia,' says Anastasia Dyakova, deputy director of the Krasnoyarsk branch of the Siberian Generating Company, which operates the Kansk CHP plant, the largest heat source in the city.

'I found out that there is a lot in common between power engineering and art,' says Anastasia.

'They both give energy for life. The main goal of the Kansk festival is to make an audience think, and if it happens, the impact has been made. I think that the meaningfulness of these films will provide me with inspiration and support in life and work for quite a long time.

'I was particularly impressed by the forest installation of Bertrand Gosselin, which creates a fairy tale by ingeniously combining light and the trees. This is something that is close to energy engineering in spirit and essence. The Siberian Generating Company also established a special prize – “Cinergy” (cinema + energy), won by a short film “Update / Delete” directed by Alexey Ilyin & Grigory Kalinin, which was shot in the form of street video, where fragmentary shots ultimately develop a deep dramatic story.


Assembling of the forest installation by Bertrand Gosselin. Pictures: Natalya Kobets

The Grand Prix of the festival – the Golden Palm Pruner was taken by the film by the South Korean director Song Joo-sung 'Girl At The Door', which tells about attempts to resist domestic violence. The second place was taken by 'Atlas of the Wounded Buildings' by Thadeusz Tischbein (Germany), and the third was the plastic drama 'Vernae' by Ethan Folk (the USA).

Hosts of the Kansk festival plan to expand in the future, adding the fourth — musical — part, to the current list of events (literary, architectural, and independent cinema festival).

The Grand Prix of the festival – the Golden Palm Pruner - was taken by the film by the South Korean director Song Joo-sung 'Girl At The Door', which tells about attempts to resist domestic violence. Picture: Natalya Kobets

The International Kansk Festival has being held in the city of Kansk in the Krasnoyarsk Krai since 2002.

The multi-genre festival intents to popularize contemporary culture in Siberia and combines several areas of art: video art, experimental cinema, new drama, new music, poetry, theater, architecture.

The festival is aimed at developing the artistic language, supporting young talents and introducing new names. The festival is a free platform for creative utterances in any language of the world. The host of the Kansk festival is 'Studio Videodom', the general sponsor is the Siberian Generating Company.

In co-operation with the 'Siberian Generating Company', a holding company for the production of electrical and heat energy and heat transfering. Krasnoyarsk affiliate of SGC includes Krasnoyarsk, Nazarovo and Kansk: 5 thermal power plants, Krasnoyarsk heat transport company, repair and service companies and a management company. The company employs 6,160 people.

Comments (3)

We love Kansk and will be contributing art soon.
Franz, Moldova
31/03/2023 09:27
Open minded city ! Please, in the future, give us the all gold palms pruner in différents topics .
Spécial love for the red carpet with carott and cactus. BRAVO les enfants !
Jocelyne, FRANCE
27/10/2017 20:13
Open minded city ! Give us the golden palm pruner in all events in the future please.
Special love for the red carpet with carott and cactus..Bravo les enfants!
Jocelyne, FRANCE
27/10/2017 20:02

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