The 2019 edition of the international Astra Film Festival in Sibiu, which will take place between 14 and 20 October, presents a series of exceptional documentaries that propose a deep reflection on the past for a better understanding of the present reality. The films are directed by some of the most important voices of universal cinema, such as Werner Herzog and Sergei Loznitsa, and they focus on titans of history Joseph Stalin and Mikhail Gorbachev but also on key moments in recent Romanian history - the ‘89 Revolution, then and now.
”State Funeral”, the most recent film directed by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa, will have its Romanian premiere during the Opening Gala of Astra Film Festival 2019 on Monday, 14 October, from 7:00 PM at Thalia Hall. The film, which recently had its worldwide premiere at the Venice Film Festival, explores the impact of Stalin’s death in 1953 on the entire Soviet Union and captures the moment of the burial as a climactic point in the dictator’s cult of personality. Loznitsa employs his unmistakable style in dissecting this “Great Farewell” through a montage of rare and long-forgotten archive footage. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Emil Hurezeanu, the Romanian ambassador in Berlin, starting from Loznitsa’s film, on the nature and legacies of communist regimes that are still haunting the contemporary world.
The documentary ”State Funeral” is competing in the Central & Eastern Europe competition and a second screening will be held on Friday, 18 October, 12:00 PM at Astra Film Cinema 2. Sergei Loznitsa, a close friend of the Astra Film Festival in Sibiu, received the “Astra Film Grand Prize” in 2014 for his documentary “Maidan”.
Another memorable meeting proposed by Astra Film Festival this year is Werner Herzog’s documentary, ”Meeting Gorbachev”. In the current international context dominated by dire forecasts, Herzog revisits some of the most remarkable achievements of the visionary Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the USSR, such as his involvement in ending the Cold War, his negotiations with the USA for reducing nuclear weapons or stopping the Soviet control on Eastern Europe. The documentary will be screened on Thursday, 17 October, 6:00 PM, at Thalia Hall and on Saturday, 19 October, 1:00 PM, at Cinema Ion Besoiu – Large Hall. The documentary is part of the Great Masters section.
Since this year marks the 30 year anniversary of the 1989 Revolution and the fall of Communism, Astra Film Festival brings on the big screen a fragment of this macro-event documented by director Dobrivoie Kerpenisan in his native village near Timișoara. The film ”Rebels with a cause” begins with those images and reaches the protagonists of these events as they are today. This experience reignites the fear and the courage felt during those days but also their past hopes and dreams for a better future. The documentary is included in the Romania competition and will have its worldwide premiere on Friday, 6:00 PM, at Thalia Hall, followed by a further screening on Saturday, 19 October, 3:00 PM, at Cinema Ion Besoiu – Large Hall.
The entire programme of Astra Film Festival 2019 is available here: https://www.astrafilm.ro/en/program/
Astra Film Festival Sibiu is held under the High Patronage of the Romanian Presidency.
Astra Film Festival 2019 is coordinated by Astra Film, CNM Astra and the Astra Film Foundation, with the support of the Sibiu County Council, the Ministry of Culture and National Identity and the National Center of Cinematography. The event is co-financed by the Sibiu Local Council through the City Hall of Sibiu.