Beat Film Festival’s National Competition was launched in 2015, when the festival for the first time brought together the works of young Russian documentary filmmakers in the Smena program. The competition is driven by the ambition to develop the Russian documentary film industry, supporting promising directors who make films about the new reality and culture that surrounds them and share Beat Film Festival’s values. The Grand Prix of the National Competition comes with a substantial monetary reward. Participants also compete for the jury’s special mention and special prizes from partners.
More than 50 documentaries made in different parts of the country have premiered at Beat Film Festival’s National Competition. WIth our festival, aspiring directors and cameramen grow into professional filmmakers: their films are later released throughout Russia and go to the major international film festivals. South by Southwest flourished alongside Lena Dunham: she was raised by the festival and then took it to the next level. We wanted to build the same sustainable dynamics — that's why we launched the National Competition
co-founder and managing director of Beat Film Festival
The National Competition’s jury traditionally includes selectors of prestigious international film festivals: IDFA, South by Southwest, New Horizons, Visions du Reel, Venice, Rotterdam and Locarno festivals. In 2016 for example, Mads Mikkelson, the program director of the largest European documentary film festival - CPH:DOX in Copenhagen - was a jury member.
Stepan Polivanov and Stereotactic studio film Raving Riot - about a protest rave in Tbilisi - featured in the National Competition 2019 and became an all-time hit of Beat Film Festival. After the premiere at the competition, the doc amassed more than 10 thousand viewers in the Russian box office and was honored with a screening at the Tate Modern in London.
In 2018, Nastya Korkiya's short doc Sharp and Soft, about the interaction with art, premiered at the National Competition before embarking on a world festival tour. It was featured at Leipzig Film Festival, True/False Film Festival in the USA, and Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Alexander Elkan’s documentary Hey, bro!, covering the adventures of two friends in Moscow and Crimea, won the National Competition 2018 and thus caught the attention of selectors from IDFA - the main European documentary film festival held in Amsterdam. In 2015 another participant of the National Competition went to IDFA — Okay-good, a documentary musical about the Russian outback by Alexandra Kulak and Anna Kornienko.
Maksim Tomash’s debut documentary Heel-and-Toe covers the life of hip Russian rapper Antokha MC. The very touching premiere at the 2019 National Competition, during which Tomash came to the stage with the hero of his film, was followed by an invitation to the international documentary film festival in Rotterdam.
The almanac about football Without Cups and Medals, created with the support of Nike, became a viewers favourite of the 2018 National Competition, with one part — Where did your bride go by Tair Polad-zade and Philipp Zadorozhny, about a team of teenage girls from Vladikavkaz - was selected for Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival in Toronto.
In 2020, Moskino, an organization behind the chain of Moscow municipal cinemas, became a partner of the National Competition. Thanks to this, a new award was established — 150 thousand rubles for the best display of modern culture and Beat heroes in today's Moscow. Its first receiver was Tanya Chekhova's Box of Matches, about Moscow DJ collective Flammable Beats.
Margarita Zakharova, a film editor at the time, had her first experience with Beat Film Festival as a spectator. What she saw inspired her to start a career as a film director. In 2016, her first doc Inner Rap entered the National Competition, and three years later she won the competition with Moscow Is Like a Dream, a film about the fading love between a guy from Montenegro and a girl from the Moscow art scene.
Flip, directed by Geleskhan Batyrkhanov, tells the story of Russian skateboarding, from the first USSR Cup in 1991 to the present day. The doc became Beat Film Festival 2020 audience favourite and received a special mention from the jury of the National Competition. After the completion Flip was successfully released in Russia and was included in the country's top streaming service, Kinopoisk HD.