BRICSRussia’s National Film Foundation Gosfilmofond has announced that it’s planning an alternative international film festival that will take place in Nice (France) concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival, starting next year.

Why should you care, you wonder? 

To be titled Alternativa (which should provide an inkling of its focus), the new festival’s mission will be to screen films that are rejected by other prominent international film festivals like the aforementioned Cannes, as well as Berlin and Venice to name three, with emphasis on films by directors from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and regions surrounding them – this according to Gosfilmofond’s general director Nikolay Borodachev in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestiya. 

“It will be an international festival with an international jury, and present awards. We will invite leading film critics. We have all of the possibilities to do this,” the director said, adding, “The distance from Cannes to Nice is small and all journalists, of course, will come to [see] these films to understand why they weren’t taken by the Cannes festival."

This news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that, earlier this month, Russia’s filmmakers’ union announced that it was planning to establish an alternative to the Oscars, what they called a new "Eurasian Oscar" focused on movies shot in the BRICS countries and surrounding regions, in an attempt to address what the country sees as discrimination in the current Academy Awards set-up – something that I think many here in the USA will be in full agreement with.

Moves like this can all be seen as part of a concerted effort by Russia to solidify a bond between the so-called BRICS nations (and their allies), five major emerging national economies once hailed as the building blocks of global growth, and future world leaders – an effort that seems to have been fast-tracked following sanctions against Russia last year, led by the USA and the European Union, after Russia’s unrecognized annexation of Crimea.

While this may not have a direct effect on American filmmakers, Alternativa, seemingly establishing itself as a festival for the marginalized, could provide relief for some of us within the Diaspora.

It also reminded me of my annual "Rejected by Sundance" series, in which I announce a call for filmmakers whose films were rejected by what is considered the most important film festival in the USA, and share submissions I receive on this blog.