About festival

Festival “Message to Man” was founded to emphasize the important role of non-feature films in cultural life of the country and allow national documentary filmmakers become more familiar with the world of international cinema.             

However, with years, the goals of the Festival had broadened and as a result, short fiction and animated films were added to the competition program. This year the Festival also makes a new step toward experimental films.

Every year the Festival presents over 50 Russian premieres and more than 300 films from around the world are screened in competition and special programs. 

On average the Festival receives over 3000 films for selection each year. These films become accessible to every participant and guest of the Festival through the Festival’s video-library.


The name of the Festival «Message to Man» also became its mission. It refers to the Bible and reflects the essence of the Festival’s purpose: Faith, Hope, Love, Grace, Compassion – eternal human values that we always need in life as well as in films.

The Festival is supported by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Russian Federation, St. Petersburg City Government and Committee for Culture of St. Petersburg.

The Festival was founded by the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the USSR, Goskino of the USSR, the USSR Union of Filmmakers, Gosteleradio of the USSR and the Executive Committee of Lensoviet in December of 1988 as an International film festival of non-feature films.In January of 1989 the first Festival was held with a grand success. The first Chairman of the jury was well-known Swiss filmmaker and philosopher Erwin Leiser. The author of the famous film «Mein kampf». Initially the Festival took place once in two years (the second IFF “Message to Man” took place in 1991 and the third one in 1993).

Since 1994 IFF “Message to Man” is being held annually. Also since 1994 the competition program includes short fiction and animated films and the Festival was registered by the International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) as an International film festival of documentary, short fiction and animated films.
In 1998 was founded the competition for the national documentaries, named later as “Gateway to Russia”