Saturday 28th - day of the festival awards ceremony hosted at The Cultural Centre of the Russian Armed Forces; a grand neo-classical building opposite The Theatre of the Russian Army (apparently the biggest theatre in Europe!). Tables laid heavy with food and drink, TV camera crews, filmmakers and dignitaries - quite the festival finale!
Then the awards; best film, best hero, best antihero - stuff like that - decided by an international jury of writers/producers/broadcasters: Boris Leonov (Russia), Antonio Bruni (Italy), Endre Florian (Hungary), Buryana Angelakiyeva (Bulgaria) and Sharma Prakash (India). Well deserved, ‘The Fall Guys’ (Scott Boswell & Rhys Cain) got pretty much the first award for the features category, and as fellow English speakers sharing a table this added a real buzz and a feeling of celebration right from the start, and the drinks start flowing!
All the awards are announced in Russian with delayed english translation. As the only UK participant I listen out for any mention of ‘England’ or but unfortunately no prize from the judges for ‘The POW’. More, food, more drink, more awards interspersed with some entertainment on stage. Then as some final additional award is being announced on stage I get nudges from a couple of the Russian speakers at our table “It’s you! Go!”. Unsure but trusting their judgement I quickly make my way up the stairs to the stage where Yury (festival director) presents a special diploma, trophy and - shock horror - a mic. I say few words of thanks, short and sweet (having had just enough wine & vodka to warm me up but not enough to slur or fall over) and make my way back to cheers from all those new filmmaker friends.
After one more feature that evening we’re back to the hotel for a late night farewell ‘tea party’ comprising of buffet bits and bobs, beer and yes more vodka. It’s at about 1am that I decide going to bed is quite possibly a big mistake given I have to be out of the hotel at 6am to catch my flight. So with the help of Elizabeth (festival translator) Vladimir (South Urals TV journalist) and some others, we celebrate into the early hours. Elizabeth who’s been a fantastic help all week decides to get me onto coffee at around 4am which was a very good idea, and maybe the decisive action in helping me catch my flight! 5:30am I woozily pack my stuff and 6am bid these wonderful people goodbye; embarking on the 17hr journey home.
Sunday 29th - two metro lines, an aeroexpress, two flights, a brief kip at Heathrow and a final train get me to Carnforth station - where it all began - 7:30pm. Priceless. Thanks to DetectiveFest.