Polish productions and co-productions were extremely popular during this year's edition of the Flahertiana festival in Russia. Jerzy Śladkowski's “Bitter Love” came back with the main prize, while Małgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja's “Lessons of Love” won the Silver Nanook. The jury was also impressed by Andrei Kutsila's “Strip and War”.

Flahertiana International Documentary Film Festival is held annually in the Russian city of Perm. Its name refers to one of the world's precursors of documentary filmmaking, Robert Flaherty – the director of the famous “Nanook of the North” (1922). For this reason, the awards given out at the festival are called the Nanook Award, and many have gone to Poles on numerous occasions.

This year, the main award – the Golden Nanook – went to Jerzy Śladkowski for the film “Bitter Love”, a Swedish-Finnish-Polish documentary co-production. 

A boat trip down the Volga can be a good opportunity to mend a broken heart, experience a passionate romance, or repair a broken relationship. A group of Russian men and women, mainly in their golden years, are taking a break from the hardships of everyday life, enjoying the trip's various attractions and… flirting like there's no tomorrow. Before us is an ensemble of ordinary and extraordinary characters, often with painful experiences behind them, but still clinging to hope. The camera observes their great and small dramas with a tender eye, cheering the protagonists on finding true love.

The Silver Nanook went to the directors of “Lesson of Love”. The protagonist of the documentary by Malgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja is Jola, an eccentric, colourful woman in her late sixties who, after fifty years, takes an important step – she runs away from her marital nightmare in Italy back to her home town of Szczecin. There, she can finally live like she has always wanted to: she dances, sings, writes poems, and songs. Her lyrics are about a love she has never known. In Jola's eyes, the world is romantic, colourful, and dramatic. One night on the dance floor of Cafe Uśmiech [English: “Cafe Smile”] she meets Wojtek – an older man who madly falls in love with her. All of Jola's friends, as well as her six children, urge her to divorce Bogdan, an alcoholic who stayed in Italy. Only the priest tries to dissuade her, claiming that she should forgive and remain faithful to the end. Jola hesitates and doesn't know what to do. Face a difficult divorce and remarry? Or, perhaps, just live in the moment and not dwell on the past? Will Jola dare to live her life? And will she finally do what she wants and not what others expect of her?

In turn, one of the special Jury awards went to Andrei Kutsila. His awarded documentary “Strip and War” takes place on the outskirts of Minsk, where an extraordinary couple lives. A retired lieutenant colonel, stuck in the post-Soviet past, spends his days managing a regional veteran organisation, writing military articles and patriotic essays, and arranging meetings with students and colleagues. He is sharing his house with his grandson Anatol, who has left his job as an engineer to pursue his true calling as a stripper and dreams of starting his own erotic theatre. The grandfather is unable to accept his grandson's passion and tries to persuade him to return to a more stable life. The generational conflict transforms into an image of contemporary Belarus and the entire post-Soviet region.

The list of all awarded films is available here.