Nominal Empire by Denis Semenov and Natalia Severina, which won the Open Frame Award.
The gathering’s Open Frame Award has been transformed into a VR discovery platform for Central and Eastern European experiences, while OPPOSE OTHERING! showed off its co-financed films.
For its 18th edition, the goEast Film Festival introduced new iterations of two of its better-known sections, the Open Frame Award (OFA) and OPPOSE OTHERING!, which are adjusting their focus and approaching their content differently.
Formerly focused on short films, the OFA is now goEast’s virtual-reality hub. In its first revamped edition, the OFA invited eight virtual-reality creators hailing from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Germany, to showcase their experiences. One of the key aims for this initial selection was to offer support to independent creators on a shoestring budget, rather than to established studios, thus offering a much-needed boost, especially for projects coming from a region that is fairly new to this field. Spanning a wide range of genres, the VR projects in the OFA included 360-degree and interactive experiences. Georgy Molodtsov, the curator of this year’s Open Frame Award, opined: “With the inclusion of virtual reality, we are embarking on totally new approaches to storytelling.”
Starting with Nominal Empire (Russia), the winner of the OFA’s €5,000 prize, offered by the BHF-BANK Foundation, the title is an immersive experience by Russian artistic duo Denis Semenov and Natalia Severina, who explore the Russian avant-garde, creating a post-modern dystopia set after 1939, where theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold is not executed, but instead sets up a dictatorship of “ProletariARTs”.
The jury’s Honourable Mention winner, Here and There (Belarus), is a 360-degree fiction experience by Kiryll Halitsky, which revolves around an author who has secluded himself, retreating into a dream world full of books and manuscripts, a place that teeters between fiction and reality.
The rest of the selection comprised the following titles:
Bananza! (Serbia/Netherlands), a 3D animation created by artistic duo Sofija Stankovićand Teodora Stojković (aka TeYosh), which gives children an idea of what it is to grow up in a digital world.
Circus 360 (Romania), a 360-degree 3D documentary by Dorin Moldoveanu, which lifts the lid on Bucharest’s “Metropolitan Circus”, following the preparations and rehearsals involved in the life of the circus.
A Courageous Heart (Poland) by Polish collective Dream Adoption Society and directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski, which follows human rights activist Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1811), a hero of the Enlightenment.
The Grind (Germany) by Jörg Peter, a story set in a 360-degree work cubicle that disappears as new worlds open up.
SHIL (Lithuania), an interactive experience set in a monochrome, paper-cutting-like world with no depth or shadows, by Giedrius Tamulaitis, who directed, developed and animated the experience, as well as composing the music for it.
Ukrainian Summer Camp – Learning to Fight (Ukraine/USA) by Alexey Furman and Sergiy Polezhaka, a 360-degree documentary commissioned by The New York Times, which unfolds over one day in a summer camp near Kyiv that offers a training programme for children who wish to fight against the Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
The third edition of goEast’s talent development project, OPPOSE OTHERING!, continued its focus on ethical filmmaking and the inclusion of minorities in the audiovisual industry. Over the last two years, nine short films have been created within the scope of OPPOSE OTHERING!, and four of them celebrated their world premieres at this year's goEast Film Festival. Antigonna (Ukraine/Germany) by Oksana Kazmina and Maxim Cirlan, Bond (Ukraine/Germany) by Zhanna Ozirna and Aurelia Natalini, My Home Video (Germany) by Andreas Boschmann, and In The Frame (Moldova/France/Germany/Romania) by Ion Gnatiuc and Artiom Zavadovsky are queer films that question the norms of society – and especially those of the family – and were shown in the OPPOSE OTHERING! section.
At this edition, OPPOSE OTHERING! was expanded, and Rebecca Podlech, head of the section, commented: “In 2018, an accompanying programme invited a group of 14 film professionals, working in production, distribution, festivals, education and television, to explore the topic of othering and diversity in film in depth. In panel discussions, case studies and workshops, the participants discussed and developed new ideas on how to address the issue and bring about a change in society.”