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The Golden Unicorn Awards 2021: McMafia meets Shakespeare in London


The Golden Unicorn Awards 2021: McMafia meets Shakespeare in London

The winners of the fifth Golden Unicorn Awards were announced in London on December 5 at Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The ceremony was hosted by the Russian A-lister Danila Kozlovsky (British crime series McMafia and Hollywood film Vampire Diaries). Interwoven with theatrical performance The Tempest and the Unicorn, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the ceremony starred Kozlovsky, Singer Lina Maxine, pianist Stephen Ridley, and actors Ben Fox, Oliver Bennet and Maxim Korbun.

Filip Perkon, Founder and General Producer of the Golden Unicorn Awards

The Golden Unicorn Awards is an annual event reflecting the cross-cultural mission of the Russian Film Week Festival; building a bridge between the English-speaking world and the Russian people. The original unicorn statuettes made of Bohemian crystal glass, containing 24-carat gold leaf, were given to winners in twelve nominations.

Captain Volkonogov Escaped by N. Merkulova and A. Chupov stole the show winning in three categories: best movie, best screenplay and best actor (Yuri Borisov). The UK premiere of the movie earlier opened the Russian Film Week and made a big impact on members of the jury and the audience.

The awards have two separate juries: an international and a Russian jury, providing a unique opportunity to recognise both Russian and foreign films through a cross-cultural lens. The Golden Unicorn Awards have now become an important annual event in the Russian and European film industry calendar. Anna Smith, a renowned British film critic, was at the helm of the International jury. The Russian jury was chaired by actress and director Alisa Khazanova. The Russian Jury judges foreign films with Russian connection and documentaries about Russia.


  • Best Film – Captain Volkonogov Escaped, by N. Merkulova, A. Chupov;
  • Best Screenplay – Captain Volkonogov Escaped, by N. Merkulova, A. Chupov;
  • Best Debut – Next station: Russia, by I. Sosnin;
  • Best Short Film – Promises, by L. Vlad;
  • Best documentary – Far Eastern Golgotha, by Julia Sergina;
  • Best foreign film with a Russian connection: Bloodsuckers, by Julian Radlmaier;
  • Best foreign documentary – Bless you, by T. Chistova (Poland);
  • Best Emerging Talent – Polina Gukhman (Masha);
  • Best Actress – Svetlana Khodchenkova (Another Name);
  • Best Actor – Yuri Borisov (Captain Volkonogov Escaped);  
  • Best Animated Film – Secret Magic Control Agency, by A. Tsitsilin;
  • Best Russian Actor in an International Project (The Casting Bridge Award) – Alexander Kuznetsov. 

“I’ve always loved attending the Golden Unicorn Awards, both as a winner and as a guest of the ceremony,” said Danila Kozlovsky, who is known to international audience by his part in a British crime drama television series McMafia. “It is great that there is a platform where contemporary Russian cinema has a unique chance to be presented to an international audience. It is a chance for my colleagues to receive a direct response and recognition from foreign audiences. And, of course, it’s cool to be on stage in England and in the heart of West End to perform a Shakespeare play in such an improvised production.”
Filip Perkon, Founder and General Producer of the Golden Unicorn Awards, said: “I am excited and intrigued to try this new format that we invented, an awards ceremony mixed into a play. It is a true celebration of culture and the arts. It is experimental and it is entertaining, but we are all about breaking the status quote and innovating. Perhaps it’ll be our new format, but only time and our audiences will tell”.

Filip Perkon, Founder and General Producer of the Golden Unicorn Awards
Elena Leo, Kiril Uvarov, Yulia Khamitova, Lena Slatina (RFW and GOLDEN UNICORN AWARDS 2021)

Anna Smith, a renowned British film critic, host of Gils on Film podcast and President of the Jury said: “It’s been my honour to chair the awards this year, and a real treat to devour so much contemporary Russian cinema. I have been hugely impressed by the talent on display behind and in front of the camera. I have genuinely laughed and cried at these contenders. The filmmakers have approached tough subjects – from politics to gender based violence – sensitively, and balanced dark and light deftly. We could be in a new golden era for Russian cinema!”

Theatre director and author of the play, Vladimir Scherban said: “This is a one-off performance, based on “The Tempest”, the last play and creative message of the classic. The choice is not accidental. It is not just that Shakespeare is the main author of the island we all live on. It is also the fact that “The Tempest” was written during the plague, but its creators found the strength to keep working. Another reason is that Shakespeare is practically a Russian author. In Soviet times, it was through him that many creators could freely reflect and express their thoughts. It is all even more important that Danila Kozlovsky, who plays Hamlet in Russia in his native language, has now read Shakespearean poetry in the author’s homeland and in the original language.  Oliver and I have long been in love with the Russian classics and have been doing it in Britain, so we were interested in getting to know contemporary Russian cinema. Our performance is a mix of all genres, a festival of all art forms, a celebration of art, inspiration and creativity, symbolised by the Golden Unicorn.” 

Alisa Khazanova, Chair of the Russian Jury, said: “I think it’s a very important and interesting story to work with the ‘Russian cultural code’. There is a new round of interest in Russian history and in people who come from the Russian creative environment. It was interesting for me to watch films where there is an attempt to understand and assimilate the space of dialogue between different cultures.”

Organised by Perkon Productions

Co-organiser: Corporation “Synergy”

Official sponsors  Gazprom Marketing & Trading, and Blavatnik Family Foundation