Founded in Moscow in 2000 by uniFrance Films at the instigation of the French Embassy in Russia, this festival was set up with the aim of assisting Russian distributors in their efforts to release French films. The concept was to present premiere screenings of films selected by local distributors, held in the presence of French artists and the media. In the light of the expansion of the exhibition sector in Russia (with currently around 3,000 screens in operation), uniFrance Films made the decision in 2005 to extend the event to include the large provincial cities of Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Nijni-Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Khabarovsk, and Novossibirsk.
2012 has been a record-breaking year for French cinema in Russia, with 61 new films hitting the screens, including 40 French-language productions. In addition to this, 6 French titles (including 5 French-language productions) feature in the Top 10 films of all nationalities released this year on 50 prints or more. While the year is not yet over, French-language films have already attracted 2.5 million Russian spectators (the most popular titles were Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia, Houba! On the Trail of the Marsupilami, The Artist, andThe Intouchables), to which can be added 3.1 million admissions to French films shot in other languages, making a total to date of 5.6 million admissions. These figures are the highest since 2008 and show a particularly strong rise in results for French-language productions (804,000 admissions in 2011). In addition to these triumphant results, French films are distributed by around 15 different companies, ensuring a diversity of productions reaching audiences.
Mélanie Laurent took part in a press conference held November 26 in Moscow to present the festival to the Russian media as well as in interviews about the film she has directed, Adoptés, which, while it has not yet secured a buyer in Russia, has been included in the Moscow festival selection.
Virginie Ledoyen will travel to Yekaterinburg December 17 for a screening of Farewell My Queen. This film directed by Benoît Jacquot, which was released in Moscow last summer, has not yet been released in many provincial theaters, and the presence of one of its lead actresses should stimulate interest in its distribution beyond the Ural Mountains.
A program of around 40 short films will accompany this selection of feature films, to be presented notably at a Short Film Night held in Moscow.