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goEast2018: Spotlight on Cinema History

Festivals 2018-03-05


Symposium “Hybrid Identities – Baltic Cinema” // Prague 1968

In 2018, seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe are celebrating 100 years of independence. “I picked a very special year to make my start as the head of festival,” says Heleen Gerritsen, the new director of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film. “That’s a cause for celebration, but also invites us to take stock of current circumstances. Especially in the Baltic States the history of independence is a very complicated one and the search for identity is far from resolved”, according to Gerritsen, who is looking forward to vivid discussions with a number of renowned film scholars during the 18th edition of the festival. Under the title “Hybrid Identities – Baltic Cinema” the goEast Symposium also provides ample space for lectures and discussion. The special program Prague 1968, which is devoted to the cinematic reappraisal of the events of the Prague Spring, represents a further historical focus at the festival.

goEast Symposium “Hybrid Identities – Baltic Cinema”
One hundred years of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia: The declarations of independence of 1918 and then once again in 1990 serve as mile markers for this year’s Symposium, which is scheduled to take place from 19 to 22 April at goEast. As in previous years, a host of high-calibre guests are expected to attend the event. “We are especially looking forward to welcoming Ābrams Kleckins, one of the central figures of the ‘Riga School’, to Wiesbaden,” enthuses Barbara Wurm, curator of the Symposium. The lectures will be accompanied by a curated film program, which will include a classic of documentary cinema realised by one of Kleckins’ fellow travellers: Uldis Brauns’ 235,000,000 (1967), which will be screened in a 35mm Director’s Cut version. The program spans the entire range of cinematic art, from fiction features to documentaries all the way to animated films, with gems such as Vytautas Žalakevičius’ NOBODY WANTED TO DIE (1965), Kaljo Kiisk’s MADNESS (1968), Grigorij Kromanov’s THE LAST RELIC (1969) and two animation programs featuring works from Priit Pärn and Nukufilm Studio.

The lectures will examine the interplay between cinema and socio-political developments. Further attention will be given to the founding of the respective national film studios, which were established over the course of Sovietisation following World War Two. In the scope of discussions open to the general public, award-winning directors such as Latvia’s Laila Pakalniņa, Lithuanian filmmaker Audrius Stonys and Estonian animation artists Priit Pärn and Mait Laas will give their own insightful takes on Baltic cinema.

Prague 1968
50 years after the Prague Spring, goEast is dedicating itself to a cinematic reappraisal of the events of the summer of 1968. In the framework of a retrospective rich in contrasts, goEast will undertake an extensive juxtaposition of perspectives: the program is to include fiction features from the Czech New Wave as well as documentary works, from Soviet propaganda films to Jan Němec’s ORATORIO FOR PRAGUE (1968). It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that it became possible to truly process the occupation of Czechoslovakia and the wave of repression that followed in its wake. In the 1990s, a number of films appeared, both documentaries and comedies of manners, which took a look back at the days of the Prague Spring. Among other guests, goEast eagerly awaits a visit from Czech director Iva Švarcova, who herself fled Czechoslovakia for West Germany as a child in 1968 and subsequently processed her own experiences in her comedy WHEN GRANDPA LOVED RITA HAYWORTH (2000). 

In accompanying panel discussions, goEast will attempt to trace events and their representation on screen. The highlight of the special program is sure to be the world premiere of OCCUPATION 1968 (2018). This highly symbolic international co-production shows the occupation of Czechoslovakia from the perspective of the occupiers. The project was realised by five directors hailing from five different countries of the former Warsaw Pact, all of whom will be present at the festival, as will be the project’s Slovak initiator and producer, Peter Kerekes.