The 23rd edition of Message to Man International Film Festival held from September 21 in St. Petersburg ended on Saturday. One of the winners was a Polish film, 'Toto' by Zbigniew Czapla, awarded the prize for Best Animation.

Message to Man is held regularly since 1989 and was created as an extension to the documentary section of the Moscow Film Festival. An organization under the name of Centaur (which the festval’s awards took their name from) was established for the purpose of organizing and operating the event, while Michaił Litvyakov was named the first executive director. Since its very first edition, Message to Man remains true to the slogan embedded in its name – delivering films that put the stress on values and issues of humanism. Beginning in 1994, a short film contest is also held as part of the festival.

This year, four Polish films have set to battle for awards at the festival. This included, apart from the above mentioned ‘Toto’ by Zbigniew Czapla, animation ‘Afternoon’ by Izabela Plucińska, documentary ‘Camp’ by Tomek Jeziorski, as well as Kristoffer Rus’s fiction film ‘The Big Leap’. On the final day of the festival, the jury headed by Mira Nair announced the verdict. The Centaur award for Best Animation film went to Zbigniew Czapla for his film ‘Toto’. It is the second prize for the film –  after the award at Ismailia – that was so far screened at more than thirty festivals across the world. Czapla received a prize in St. Petersburg for the second time – last year he won a special award, Prize of Mobile TeleSystems for his previous animation ‘Paperbox’.

‘Toto’ is a story of a sensitive young boy, raised by his single and hardworking mother somewhere  deep in the countryside, where life is governed by fixed day-to-day routines. The little protagonist is insidiously mesmerised by a shady kind of ‘master’ and a cynical key collector. A series of mysterious and incomprehensible events causes the world of his carefree childhood to fall apart. The boy is unable to find his way back home, while his worried mother is desperately in search for her son. It is a universal tale of credulity and childhood dreams lost forever. The kaleidoscope of events, saturated with suspence and fear, makes us realize that if we don’t know a name for what we see, we can’t say what actually happened.

The film was produced by the Film Workshop in Krakow and its international promotion is supported by the Krakow Film Foundation.

During the 23th edition of the Message to Man festival, over 200 films were delivered to the audience, of which 50 were premieres.

More details may be found at the festival’s official website