Beat Film Festival is the largest international documentary film festival in Russia, founded by Alyona Bocharova and Kirill Sorokin. Since 2010, the main edition takes place in Moscow in late May — early June, while in the fall the shorter version — under the name of Beat Weekend — travels to fifteen major cities across Russia.
Founded in 2010 as a showcase of music documentaries, Beat Film Festival has grown into a vibrant city-scale film event that presents major international documentary titles with a strong audience appeal, innovative works experimenting with art and hybrid forms, and brand new voices from young Russian cinema with a potential to be heard around the globe. Beat Film Festival celebrates the work of emerging filmmakers as well as the films of prominent directors, bringing them to a Russian audience.
The festival is known for its careful selection and ability to spotlight every film in the program by joining forces with media partners, cultural institutions and music promoters. Offbeat events combining film with music, art and education are a signature feature of the Beat Film Festival program every year. The festival has hosted live events with artists such as LCD Soundsystem, Placebo, Diplo, extended film panels in conversation with Adam Curtis, David Carr, Grant Gee, Stephen Kijak, and official collaborations with international festivals such as SXSW, CPH:DOX, Sheffield Doc, Manchester International Festival, etc.
We had the pleasure of introducing Russian audiences to such high-profile documentaries as Free Solo by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jane by Brett Morgan, Three Identical Strangers by Tim Wardle, Faces Places by Agnès Varda and JR, and many others.
In 2019 the festival opened with the premiere of David Bowie: Finding Fame, about the musician's early years. The screening took place in the courtyard of the Strelka Institute, one of the top summer venues in Moscow. Afterwards, the guests joined a lively opening party in Strelka bar, dancing to a DJ set by Anton Sevidov — recognized Russian indie musician and longtime friend of the festival.
Beat Night events take the festival audience from cinemas to clubs and concert venues. The first Beat Night party, celebrating the screening of Rudeboy, was held in Aglomerat art space and headlined by MCs and DJs from the London-based Trojan Sound System. At the peak of the party the legendary Don Letts, one of the heroes of Rudeboy and the director of The Clash’s music videos, stepped up to the turntables.
The premiere of Symphony Of Now, a cinematic love letter to Berlin with a soundtrack by the heroes of the German electronic scene — from Thomas Fehlmann to Modeselektor — was held at Mutabor techno club, a perfect setting for the event. Grisha Nelyubin of the Odopt techno act performed a thematic DJ set after the screening in the club’s courtyard, which had a strong Berlin vibe that evening.
The exhibition of VR works from the superstars of contemporary art, such as Marina Abramovich and Anish Kapoor, took up an entire floor of the Multimedia Art Museum, the main space for photography and media art in Moscow. The program was curated by Daniel Birnbaum, art director of the world's first virtual art gallery Acute Art, former director of Stockholm Museum of Modern Art and Commissioner of the Venice Biennale.
In 2016 the festival hosted the world premiere of Placebo: Alt. Russia, made during the band's tour along the Trans-Siberian Railway performing in 10 Russian cities. The documentary was presented by Placebo’s founding members Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal. As they said after the event, this premiere in Moscow was truly memorable.
The premiere of Let It Soul, a documentary tracing the friendship between Russian funk band the Soul Surfers and their hero, American soul musician Shawn Lee, was a highlight of the 2018 National Competition. After the screening at the hip La Boule petanque cafe in Gorky Park, the Soul Surfers and Shawn Lee treated the audience to a joint concert.
100 Years of Design premiered in the first hall of the October cinema, the most prestigious Moscow movie premier venue with a 1500 capacity. After the screening the heroes of the documentary, prominent Russian designers Yuri Gordon, Denis Bashev, Sasha Gladkikh, Ira Ivanova and Maxi Shilov, gathered in fashionable Noor bar to celebrate the collective project, while musician Misha Mishchenko played the piano.
The premiere of Heel-and-Toe, an intimate documentary portrait of Antokha MC, a Russian hipster one-man band, took place in the relaxing atmosphere of the Pioneer summer cinema in Muzeon Park. The film was presented by Antokha himself, joined by director Maxim Tomash, both of whom became good friends during the filming.