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Dissident Russian filmmakers Kantemir Balagov and Kira Kovalenko announced as Telluride 2022 Festival Guest Directors

Telluride Film Festival (TFF), presented by National Film Preserve LTD., is proud to announce dissident Russian filmmakers Kantemir Balagov and Kira Kovalenko as its 2022 Festival Guest Directors.

The awardwinning filmmakers are set to select a series of films to present at the 49th Telluride Film Festival running September 2 - 5, 2022.

Festival organizers annually select the world’s great film enthusiasts to join them in the creation of the Festival’s program lineup. The Guest Directors serve as key collaborators in the Festival’s programming decisions, bringing new ideas and overlooked films to Telluride. In keeping with Telluride Film Festival tradition, Balagov’s and Kovalenko’s film selections, along with the rest of the Telluride lineup, will be kept secret until Opening Day. Kantemir Balagov was born in 1991 in the city of Nalchik of the KabardinoBalkarian Republic. He briefly left the city to study economics in Stavropol, but soon realized his interests were in the arts and returned to Nalchik to enroll in film school at Kabardino-Balkarian State University under the direction of Alexander Sokurov. Upon graduation he directed his first feature film, CLOSENESS, for which he received the FIPRESCI Prize Un Certain Regard at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. His second feature, BEANPOLE, also won the FIPRESCI Prize Un Certain Regard and the Best Director Prize Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2019 and was an Oscar shortlist. His next project, TV series THE LAST OF US, is set to premiere on HBO in 2023. “I was in Telluride for the first time in 2017 with my first film CLOSENESS,” says Balagov. “As a reclusive person, I always feel anxious about going to festivals, but on the first day of being in Telluride, I felt it was different. The festival cares about the uniqueness of the various authors’ statements, it provides love and vulnerability, and it makes you feel at home. Tom and Julie put so much heart and soul into it and have created an incredible community. No, community is the wrong word. They have created a family, and Kira and I are so honored to be a part of this family. We are thrilled to be the Guest Directors this year. We promise that we will passionately pick the films because we believe that movies are little miracles that we desperately need right now.” Kira Kovalenko was born in 1989 in Nalchik, Russia and attended KabardinoBalkarian State University’s film school under Alexander Sokurov’s direction. Her first feature film, SOFICHKA, was released in 2016. Her second feature, UNCLENCHING THE FISTS, premiered in 2021 to much acclaim, winning the Grand Prize Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival. “2021 was my first time in America,” comments Kovalenko. “I was told that I would be going to the best place on earth. I was anxiously waiting and fantasizing. On the way to the festival, I opened the book that I carried with me. There was a photo. In the photo were Larisa Shepitko, Werner Herzog, and Ed Lachman. I went to where this photo was taken. This was my first Telluride experience. It is not only a place where cinema, fate, history, and the spirit of the place intertwine. To everyone who has been there once it becomes special. There is a secret in this. I think this is the secret of love. The secret of the love that Tom and Julie have for the cinema. Love for the place. And now I receive such a huge gift to be the Guest Director. I have a chance to become a part of this mystery and share movies that help me live, give me hope and remind me not to forget about miracles.” “One of the most special aspects of Telluride is the remarkable family of returning filmmakers that has formed over the years,” comments TFF executive director Julie Huntsinger. “These wildly talented people continue to create films of such high quality and regard, and we are thrilled to continue to discover and invite their new works again and again. There are threads of shared continuity between the filmmakers themselves as well. An unfailing humanism, a desire to be truthful and brave and tell stories that make us think and feel in profound ways. Our Guest Directors this year, Kantemir Balagov and Kira Kovalenko are not only two returning filmmakers with a distinct point of view, but they are also wonderful, young cinephiles (they met at film school) who will bring their brave and singular voices to a section we cannot wait to share with our wider audience in September.” Past Guest Directors include Barry Jenkins, Pico Iyer, Jonathan Lethem, Joshua Oppenheimer, Volker Schlöndorff, Rachel Kushner, Guy Maddin, Caetano Veloso, Michael Ondaatje, Alexander Payne, Salman Rushdie, Peter Bogdanovich, B. Ruby Rich, Phillip Lopate, Errol Morris, Bertrand Tavernier, John Boorman, John Simon, Buck Henry, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, G. Cabrera Infante, Peter Sellars, Don DeLillo, J.P. Gorin, Edith Kramer and Slavoj Žižek. The Guest Director program is sponsored by Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Considered throughout the industry as one of the leading authorities on classic film, the network presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. For more information about Telluride Film Festival, visit


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