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Star Media's Docudrama, The Romanovs Wins Top Prize at Chicago International Film Festival

The Romanovs, the epic docudrama series produced by Star Media and Babich Design studio, about the Romanov dynasty and its role in Russian and world history, has won the Silver Hugo, the top prize in the Documentary: History/Biography category at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The annual film competition in Chicago is the oldest in North America, founded in 1964, with a mission aimed at offering an alternative platform to the commercial Hollywood films that dominate the US film distribution business.  Over the years the festival has nurtured many directors who have since become household names in the film industry, including Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alan Parker, Peter Greenaway and many others.

The festival includes competitions for full-length feature films as well as television programmes, including TV shows, series, commercials and documentaries.  The highest prize awarded in the Television Content Competition is the Silver Hugo.

2014 saw the 50th Jubilee of the Chicago International Film Festival with 275 entries from 20 countries around the world participating in the festival’s competition programme.  In the Documentary: History/Biography category in the television competition The Romanovs competed against 25 programmes from countries as diverse as Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Poland, Ukraine, the UK and the USA.  The Silver Hugo is the highest prize in this category.  Only four Silver Hugos were awarded in the television competition, with only one awarded by an absolute majority of the jury's votes to The Romanovs.

The epic 8-episode series was created by Star Media and its production studio, Babich Design to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the election of Mikhail I Fyodorovich as tsar of Russia and the accession of the House of Romanov to the Russian throne. The Romanov dynasty ruled in Russia and the Russian Empire for over 300 years. The most vivid pages in Russian history, the formation and consolidation of power of the Russian state are associated with the names of 18 Russian tsars and emperors of the Romanovs' lineage. Each episode deals with the rule of two or more tsars, in chronological order, recounting their lives and highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, achievements, victories and defeats.

The uniqueness of the series lies in the historical reconstruction that combines live action, historical information and actuality shots: the Russian tsars take decisions, suffer, fall in love – in general, living lives of ordinary people on screen, while the voice-over narrator acquaints the viewers with all the interesting events of the times.  A visual feast of historical authenticity, created with the help of stunning CGI animation, immerses viewers in the atmosphere and feelings of the times, showing the tsars just as their contemporaries saw them.

The Romanovs aired on Channel One Russia from 4 November to 22 December 2013 every Sunday at noon (one episode per week) with an average share, in Russia, of 14.25%.  Its share peaked at 16.2% during the broadcast of episodes 2 and 8.

Right after The Romanovs finished its first broadcast on Channel One Russia, it became available on Star Media’s YouTube channel (  To date, over one million viewers have watched the entire documentary cycle, and high share values were recorded not only in Russia and the CIS countries, but also in Germany, the USA, Latvia, Israel, the UK, Lithuania, Italy, Canada, France, Poland and Turkey, demonstrating a fantastic worldwide interest that has no parallel in Russia and that was valued so highly at the Chicago International Film Festival.

In March 2014 the TV broadcast rights to The Romanovs were sold to France's Histoire channel and Denmark's DRK.  And currently Star Media is actively negotiating the sale of the series to channels in other countries in Europe and Asia.

“The international popularity of Russian language content is increasing exponentially” says Vlad Ryashin, producer and founder of Star Media.  “We are now seeing very strong and encouraging interest in many of our television series and documentaries all over the world. Of course, US series are still watched worldwide, but the quality of the best Russian-language series – I don’t mean all of them – has increased enormously in recent years.  I can tell you for sure that no Eastern European country can be compared to us.  It’s not only about budgets - the industry itself in Russia is actively developing, and the professional standards and quality of our productions is improving all the time.  We have reached the level of many of the leading production companies in the UK, France and Germany. Our victory at such a prestigious festival, as well as the active sales of our programmes to companies in the leading European countries is a vivid illustration of this fact.

“I would like to note that the current political strains between Russia and the EU and the USA have not become an obstacle to the highest and unbiased appreciation of Russian television production and its further success on the world’s television channels.”

Star Media Group was founded by Vlad Ryashin in 2006. Presently, Star Media is one of the leaders in production and distribution of theatrical and television movies, telenovelas and series, TV shows and docudramas successful in Russia, CIS and abroad.

The movies and series produced by the Star Media are invariably rated high and reach the top-10 of the pop charts on the leading TV channels in Russia and CIS. Among them are the series “The Cop”, “The Cardsharp”, “Kill Stalin”, “Anna German”, “Trouble in Store”, “Once upon a Time in Odessa”, “Kotovskiy”, “Sky on Fire”, “The River Wide”, “Spies Must Die!”, “The Trap”, “Northern Wind”, “In the Forests and Mountains”, “Thank You for Everything”, docudrama “The Great Patriotic War”, animated cycles “The History of the Russian State” and “Napoleonic Wars in Russia”, TV feature films “The Grass under Snow”, “Downsizing the Family”, “Anti-Sniper”, “Time to Be Happy” and a lot more.

Star Media Group successfully develops international sales of its content. The broadcast rights to Star Media’s content are acquired by TV channels from Eastern and Western Europe, China, Japan, the USA, Israel, Middle East countries and countries in other regions.

Star Media’s products have been nominees for and winners of such prestigious international film festivals and awards as the Chicago Film Festival (USA), AFI (USA), Monte Carlo Television Festival (Monaco), WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival (USA), Seoul International Drama Awards (South Korea), International TV Festival Bar (Montenegro), TEFI (Russia), “The Golden Eagle” (Russia), “Spirit of Fire” (Russia), “Kinoshock” (Russia), the “Golden Chest” (Bulgaria), “Listapad” (Belarus), TV and Cinema Forum “Together” (Ukraine), the “Teletriumph” Award (Ukraine), the FSB (Federal Security Service of Russia) Award, the Yuri Ozerov Wartime Film Festival (Russia), the “Golden Knight” International Film Festival (Russia), “Vivat, Cinema of Russia!” (Russia), Youth Film Festival “Reflection” (Russia), and many others.