There were no red carpets, no tickets, nor a fancy jury at the Russian outdoor film festival — just an audience happy to choose a winner for a competition that started back in June.
The competing short films were shown for free across the whole country in cities, towns and small remote villages. Millions watched and voted with the lights on their smartphones.
The festival is non-profit and only exists thanks to donations and volunteers.
There were 85 films on the main programme this year and 10 were shortlisted. It was clear that the audience preferred humour and a happy ending. One of the funnier films previewed at the festival was ‘Harmony’.
It depicts one mother’s battle to learn to respect her son’s passion for air guitar. Another favourite was ‘Set-up’ which tells the story of a corrupt governor who traps the devil.
The winning director of this year's edition is 28-year-old Nikita Vlasov. He started making films two years ago.
His film, ‘Pod’, is about a standard Russian family situation with a bride, a groom and a mother in law, who incidentally works as a military engineer. She gives her son a mine as a present, but his bride accidentally sits on it and that's how the two women meet.
Vlasov was awarded €21,000 and said he will use it to produce his next film.
The festival is being hailed as a way for young Russian directors to showcase their talent and to conquer the hearts of millions across the country.