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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Stalker-96' Film Festival Puts Spotlight on Prisons

The third International Stalker-96 cinema festival, dedicated to the defense of the human rights around the planet and in Russia specifically, opened Monday in Moscow's Central House of Cinematography and will continue until Saturday.

According to Valery Frid, Russian screenwriter, Gulag victim and chairman of the jury, this year's festival concentrates on the pitiful conditions in which prisoners have to serve their terms.

"If we manage to at least stir up some public attention around this issue we will consider the aim of this festival achieved," said Frid at a press conference Monday.

Anatoly Pristavkin, human rights activist, writer and a member of the jury, said that the festival is not in any way a celebration but, rather, a serious event. "If it were a show I would have not participated in it," he said.

Though the program of the festival includes special cultural events and material help for the prisoners of various institutions around Moscow, Frid was not optimistic that it would be able to effect any great change in the current situation.

"We may stir up minds. As for the rest, we can only hope that it will generate some kind of response," said Frid.

This year festival offers over 50 films in three categories: feature, documentary and for the first time animation -- all dedicated to human rights issues.

Three awards are to be given away -- "Grand Stalker," "Stalker" and the jury's special prize.

The program of the festival includes premiers as well as films already shown worldwide such as "Prisoner of the Caucasus" by Sergei Bodrov and the prize winning documentary "In the Shadow of Sakharov."

Access to the festival is free and the tickets are being given out at the Central House of Cinematography, 13 Vasilyevskaya Ulitsa.