Interview with Festival President Sergey Mavrody (Blow-Up Film Festival)

The 2016 BLOW-UP ARTHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL brings the most original storytellers together with very adventurous audiences for its annual program of dramatic and documentary films, shorts, animations, experimental films, and student work. The Festival was named after the Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic film “Blow-Up”.

For more information, to go:

I recently sat down with the Festival President Sergey Mavrody:

  • What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

We believe we succeed in promoting authentic voices that can awaken new ideas that have the power to push creative boundaries, spark new levels of compassion and understanding, and even lead to social change.

  • What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

I would expect to bring the most original storytellers together with very adventurous audiences. It would be a great range of quality art-house films from all over the world. I would also expect a smart audience, people, who love art-house films.

  • What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The Festival welcomes serious, independent films aimed at a specific audience rather than a mass-market consumer. We would like to see films made primarily for aesthetic and philosophical reasons rather than commercial profit. The festival would like to approach the caliber of films made by such great directors as Eisenstein, Antonioni, Fellini, Tarkovsky, Godard, Truffaut, Kurosawa.

  • Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Yes and no. On one hand, many films have to try very hard to get seen and recognized. On the other hand it is hard to miss a truly great and talented film.

  • What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The main motivation would be to discover new talented artists promoting that type of films that fit well into our vision, that push creative limits and educate audiences. On the other hand, if we have passion we don’t really need a motivation.

  • How has the festival changed since its inception?

The festival is always evolving. We have changed names, concepts, and places of screening, websites, staff, jury, method of film submission.  This is a great question and answer could be very long.

  • Where do you see the festival by 2020?

By 2020 the festival will be making an even greater impact on the world cinema by discovering talented filmmakers and setting new standards.

  • What film have you seen the most times in your life?

The most times in my life I have seen the films I made, of course.

  • In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Well, Jean-Luc Godard once said: all you need for a great movie is a gun and a beautiful girl J That was an irony, of course. Truth: that’s what makes a great film in a nutshell. More specifically, this includes an authentic story and a sincere unpretentious artistic expression.

  • How is the film scene in your city?

The MovieMaker Magazine recently unveiled its list of cities with the best film scene. You’re probably wondering who topped the list? Well, it’s my Chicago! According to the magazine – the criteria they used include festivals, film schools, movie-related vendors, local theatres, living standards, unemployment rate, median home price and aggressive tax incentives. Chicago is also rich in filmmaking history and has seen an increase in both independent and Hollywood film productions in the last few years. As we speak, a bunch of film production trucks parked right on my street. They are filming the “Empire” TV series.

BIO: Sergey A. Mavrody

Sergey Mavrody moved to US from Moscow, Russia in 1990. He was granted a green card as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”.  Sergey received his first graduate degree in animation from VGIK film school, Moscow, Russia. Sergey earned his second MFA degree in Computer Animation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sergey was a Production Designer for the Emmy Award-winning musical film “The Bridge”. Sergey produced and directed several animated films. His films have received numerous international awards.

Sergey is also a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and DeVry University. Sergey served as a board member and as a head of the jury at several film festivals. He is a founder and a president of the Blow-Up Arthouse International Film Festival.





Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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