When Unifrance first launched the French Cinema Today Festival in Russia in 2000, Moscow and St Petersburg accounted for around 90% of the nation's movie attendance figures. The dilapidated state of theaters, permanent closure of certain sites, and the repurposing of these legendary locations had led to a significant loss in movie audiences. For this reason, the festival organized by UniFrance was only held in Moscow for the first five years. However, in 2005, due to a rise in ticket prices in Moscow and the opening of new theaters in provincial Russia that attracted increasing numbers of spectators and thus reduced the two historic cities' share of national movie admissions, it was decided to move the event to provincial cities. Since that time, eight major cities have hosted the festival: Novossibirsk, Vladivostok, Kazan, Nijni-Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Ekaterinburg, and Khabarovsk.
Novossibirsk has hosted the event five times due the active involvement of the Pobeda Cinema and its staff, which has made it possible on each occasion to bring French artists to the city to present their films and discuss their work with packed houses of movie-goers, and to take part in interviews with the local media. Many French actors and directors have traveled to Novossibirsk to participate in these events over the past five years, including Jacques Audiard, Bruno Dumont, Michel Hazanavicius, and Gérard Krawczyk.
This year, Eric Omond, director of the animated film Wolfy, the Incredible Secret, and Kalieaswari Srinivasan, lead actress of Dheepan by Jacques Audiard, attended the preview screenings of their films. The festival patron this year was Régis Wargnier, who introduced his latest film The Gate to Siberian audiences, as well as a restored version of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jacques Demy. This 17th edition attracted close to 2,000 spectators over less than three days, with each film only screened once in order to avoid interfering with the commercial distribution of these titles that have been acquired by local distributors and are slated for release soon after the festival.
Four programs of short films put together by our Short Film Department completed the festival selection. The event opened with a screening of Disorder by Alice Winocour, although none of the artists from the film were able to travel to Novossibirsk to present their film. However, Alice Winocour presented her film at a preview screening in Moscow held at the Moskva Cinema on December 2 at a prestigious VIP evening. The distributor of Loulou, l'incroyable secret by Éric Omond also organized a preview screening of the film at Moscow's Fitil Cinema, with the director in attendance. These two screenings, which were hosted by the film's distributors the day before the opening of the festival in Novossibirsk, received highly positive coverage in the Russian media.