Mug by Małgorzata Szumowska
Focusing on Central and Eastern European cinema in a period of constant change, goEast is expanding into VR, inviting emerging professionals and paying tribute to the Prague Spring.
Cinema in a changing Europe will be the thematic centrepiece of the 18th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, which will unspool from 18-24 April in Wiesbaden, Germany. Opening with Małgorzata Szumowska’s latest effort, Mug [+](Poland), which will screen out of competition but which is absolutely relevant to current topics, goEast aims to explore the “artistic diversity, courage and originality of the cinema of the region”, as the new festival director, Heleen Gerritsen, states.
Sixteen films – ten fictions and six documentaries – are vying for the €10,000 Golden Lily in the goEast Competition, while the jury is headed up by Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi. Hungarian legend Márta Meszaros is bringing her latest historical family drama, Aurora Borealis: Northern Lights [+] (Hungary), which jumps back in time to the Soviet occupation after World War II. Meanwhile, Polish filmmaker Andrzej Jakimowski creates a social drama based on the recent Warsaw marches in Once Upon a Time in November [+](Poland).
Also inspired by a true story, Hanna Slak is partaking with the biopic The Miner [+] (Slovenia/Germany), which explores the discovery of a massacre that took place 60 years ago. Bohdan Sláma’s tragicomedy Ice Mother [+] (Czech Republic/Slovakia/France) focuses on a widow who discovers the pleasures of winter swimming, while November [+] by Rainer Sarnet, set in a 19th-century Estonian pagan village, is a sombre fairy tale in black and white. Seasoned auteur Rustam Khamdamov takes his surreal storytelling even further in his new Rashomon-inspired folktale The Bottomless Bag (Russia), also shot in monochrome. Finally, Sveta(Kazakhstan) by Zhanna Issabayeva is an unusual thriller that paints the portrait of a deaf Russian woman in today’s Kazakhstan.
Three debutants are also participating in goEast’s Competition – namely, the well-received and edgy LGBTQ social romantic drama The Marriage [+] (Kosovo/Albania) by Blerta Zeqiri, the witty post-Soviet black comedy Miracle [+] (Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland) by Eglė Vertelytė and the subtle generational drama set in post-revolutionary Kiev, Falling [+](Ukraine) by Marina Stepanska. In terms of documentaries, the selection includes The Dead Nation [+] (Romania), the first attempt at a doc by established filmmaker Radu Jude, about anti-Semitism before and after World War II; IDFA winner The Other Side of Everything [+] (Serbia/France/Qatar) by Mila Turajlić, a subversive portrait of the legacy of the Serbian civil war; and A Woman Captured [+] (Hungary/Germany) by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, which touches on the issue of people being held as slaves in private European households.
Mindaugas Survila creates a poetic wildlife documentary devoid of any narration in The Ancient Woods [+] (Lithuania/Estonia/Germany), while Levan Gabriadze pays tribute to his father, Revaz “Rezo” Gabriadze – who had a huge cultural influence and is also known for writing the cult sci-fi film Kin-dza-dza! – in Rezo (Russia). Finally, the satirical Our New President (Russia/USA) by Maxim Pozdorovkin (Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer [+]) depicts the US presidential campaign from a Russian perspective.
On the other hand, goEast’s parallel industry activities will focus on the future of cinema. The East-West Talent Lab has invited 14 projects by young filmmakers that will be presented during a pitching session. The Open Frame Award is reinventing itself by focusing on virtual reality for the first time, and eight experimental experiences hailing from Central and Eastern Europe will be locking horns. The innovative OPPOSE OTHERING! talent development project, which has now reached its third edition, places the emphasis firmly on ethical filmmaking and the inclusion of minorities in the audiovisual industry.
Finally, the always well-curated goEast Symposium will examine Baltic cinema and partake in the celebrations for the centenary of Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian independence, under the title “Hybrid Identities”. Also, 50 years after the Prague Spring, goEast is dedicating an homage to the events that changed Czechoslovakian history – and cinema – forever.