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goEast 2018: “We can’t escape our past”

Festivals 2018-04-16

This year’s edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film features a total of 102 productions from 35 countries. Festival director Heleen Gerritsen presented the full program on Thursday morning in the scope of a press conference at Wiesbaden’s Caligari Filmbühne, where she expressed her excitement regarding among other things the eight world premieres, one international premiere, one European premiere and 20 German premieres slated to take place at goEast. In addition, the festival will once again offer the rich accompanying program goEast attendees have come to cherish, featuring exhibitions, workshops, lectures, Q&As and of course the legendary goEast parties. “goEast is a project of the Deutsches Filminstitut, and it speaks to the heart of the organization. Our mission is to share important and challenging work, to foster the development of new voices in filmmaking, and honor those from the past”, stated Ellen Harrington, director of Deutsches Filminstitut.

This year’s competition once again consists of sixteen films which are all vying for the festival’s three main awards. “The selection committee received a lot of strong submissions from women,” commented Gerritsen. goEast was thus able to reach a 50 percent participation rate for female filmmakers with ease, according to the festival director. The large number of submissions treating the respective political situations in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe was also of particular note. “This often happens indirectly, in that subject matter from the past is taken up in order to mirror contemporary developments,” according to Gerritsen. “We simply can’t escape our past, even though some countries might attempt to alter their official national narratives.” Numerous filmmakers are confronting the uncomfortable chapters of their histories directly and searching for identity, though their films make use of a wide range of differing formal approaches in the pursuit of these aims: “Everything is represented here, from classic arthouse all the way to animated documentary cinema. Many of the filmmakers have also chosen to employ hybrid forms combining documentary, fiction and animated film”, explained Gerritsen.

All in all, around 200 filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe will be in attendance at goEast. The Portrait section is devoting a retrospective to the work of Russian master director Boris Khlebnikov, while former Berlinale Shooting Star Mateusz Kościukiewicz, who is also a member of this year’s Competition jury, will be presenting the opening film, MUG, in which he plays the lead. In the scope of the special program Prague 1968, the five directors, main producer and four actors from the anthology film OCCUPATION 1968 will be on hand for a Q&A. The audience has the opportunity to enter into direct dialogue with the filmmakers of the Competition in a relaxed atmosphere in the scope of the “goEast Salon”, which convenes every evening at the Festival Centre.

State Secretary at the Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts Patrick Burghardt is looking forward in particular to the more political productions: “With its consistently high attendance figures and many international guests, the festival is a wonderful example of how cultural exchange between East and West can function in a modern fashion. The Hessen state government is delighted to be able to contribute to the success of the festival and thus simultaneously to promoting intercultural understanding among the countries of Europe with its annual funding in the amount of 115,000 euros.”

For Axel Imholz, Head of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the State Capital Wiesbaden, it is above all Wiesbaden’s history that connects many of its citizens to Eastern Europe. “goEast gives us deeper insight into developments in their societies”, as Imholz explained, noting that Wiesbaden can consider itself fortunate to host this festival treasure in the state capital. “This cinematic program is a testament to the organisers’ excellent knowledge of film history and development and is surely unique within the festival landscape”, added the Head of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

goEast also provides a platform for up-and-coming talents from the film industry. New here this year is the focus of the Open Frame Award, made possible with the support of BHF-BANK Foundation, which will feature virtual reality works for the first time in 2018 in the scope of the East-West Talent Lab. Eight 360° and VR works from Serbia, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Romania, Germany, Russia and Ukraine will be on display at Deutsches Filmmuseum from 10 to 16 April and at Museum Wiesbaden from 19 to 25 April. The exhibition opening will take place on Thursday, 19 April, with all artists in attendance. “Kulturfonds supports the idea behind the festival. On one hand, the festival offers an innovative program featuring both well-known and unknown filmmakers. And on the other hand there is the East-West Talent Lab, a comprehensive talent development program that connects 30 young artists from Central and Eastern Europe and Germany with one another and offers them the opportunity to present their project ideas to a renowned expert jury publically”, observed Dr. Helmut Müller, Managing Director of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, which supports the talent development program. The East-West Talent Lab fosters its participants’ professional and creative abilities. “As such, it serves to build bridges between different countries and diverse cultures”, according to Müller.

The 18th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film kicks off on 18 April. The festival will open with the Polish production MUG by director Małgorzata Szumowska.