Year in and year out, goEast - Festival of Central and Eastern European Film presents the cinema of Central and Eastern Europe in all of its richness and diversity - this April for the 16th time and counting. The festival, which runs from 20th to 26th April in Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Mainz and Darmstadt in Germany, provided a first glimpse of its 2016 programme at a reception hosted by Deutsches Filminstitut during the 66th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival.
Dedicated to Genre Cinema: Symposium and Portrait
This year's Symposium and Portrait sections are set to explore areas that have previously received only scant critical attention: both sections will be devoting themselves exclusively to genre cinema for this edition of the festival. The Symposium will be taking a look at Germany's favourite genre, the crime film - although from the unique Eastern European perspective that fans have come to expect from goEast. Under the title "In the Shadows: Crime and the Daily Grind in Central and Eastern European Genre Cinema post 1945", the programme will bring together special takes on the crime film genre that are widely unfamiliar to German audiences, ranging from the classic police film all the way to nihilistic noirs. The genre's potential to depict the contemporary history and everyday lived reality of specific countries is only one of the many topics that curator Olaf Möller and the other esteemed presenters will treat. At the same time, the Symposium will aim to examine why exactly it is that the crime film has up until now failed to attract a great deal of attention from scholars and critics alike, in spite of its popularity and the vast number of productions that the genre has brought forth.
For its part, this year's Portrait promises to delight festival audiences with Polish cult classics: the retrospective is devoted to Juliusz Machulski, director, scriptwriter and producer of some of the most successful Polish film productions of the past 35 years. With their deft balancing act between Western genre tropes and a biting, socially critical sense of humour, the films of this graduate of the National Film School in Lódz already managed to strike a nerve upon their original release back in the day. Today it is especially his comedies that are considered to be cult classics for this very reason. The selection that goEast will present during the festival week consists of Machulski's most successful works - such as the science fiction satire SEX MISSION (Poland, 1984) and the mistaken identity comedy about the eponymous taxi driver KILER (Poland, 1997) - though it also includes the little known historical drama SQUADRON (Poland, 1992).
A Consistent Focus on Political Filmmaking: Beyond Belonging
Every year, the section Beyond Belonging deals with socio-political phenomena under a different central theme, also presenting thematically relevant films that don't necessarily have to originate from Central or Eastern Europe. This year, the film programme tackles the complex topic of "othering", a term commonly used for misanthropy directed at specific groups. Under the title "Us and Them? Otherness and Othering", the section brings together films that are devoted to phenomena of exclusion or isolation in all their various forms. The selection ranges from feature film classics such as Michael Cimino's epic western HEAVEN'S GATE (USA, 1981), in which Eastern European immigrants are expelled by force by powerful land owners, all the way to documentary film productions such as VICTORY DAY (Russia, 2014, Director: Alina Rudnitskaya) or CALL ME MARIANNA (Poland, 2015, Director: Karolina Bielawska), which deals with alternative forms of intimate relationships and gender identities and their acceptance in society.
The section is as such very closely linked to the newly launched platform for the promotion of young talent OPPOSE OTHERING!, which has been initiated together with Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (EVZ). In the scope of this new project, young filmmakers will work together in international two-person teams to develop film projects that approach the phenomena of othering from a critical perspective in their countries of origin or portray individuals and initiatives that have committed themselves to the struggle to gain acceptance and tolerance for minorities.
Cinema of Striking Originality: The Competitions
Creative, quite often critical and always something special - those are the shared characteristics that distinguish the 16 current productions from the regions of Central and Eastern Europe that will be competing for awards totalling 21,500 euros in the Competition for Fiction Features and Documentaries. The official selection ranges from auteur and arthouse works all the way to genre films, all possessed of startling originality. The Competition also displays great thematic diversity, although these films do indeed for the most part reflect the mood and current state of society in their respective countries of origin. The ten fiction features and six documentaries all have a chance at winning three generously funded awards: the Award for Best Film (10,000 euros), the Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director (7,500 euros) as well as the Award of the Federal Foreign Office for Cultural Diversity (4,000 euros). In addition, one fiction feature will also have the honour of receiving the International Film Critics' Award (FIPRESCI Award).
The Experimental Film and Video Art Competition will also be taking place once again, with the support of BHF-BANK Foundation and the Adolf und Luisa Haeuser-Stiftung für Kunst und Kulturpflege. Young artists and filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as from Hessen's film and art academies, will present current works here and compete for the Open Frame Award (5,000 euros).
goEast - Festival of Central and Eastern European Film is hosted by Deutsches Filminstitut and supported by numerous partners. The festival is primarily funded by the Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, the State Capital Wiesbaden, Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (EVZ), Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland, BHF-BANK Foundation, the Adolf und Luisa Haeuser-Stiftung für Kunst und Kulturpflege, the Federal Foreign Office, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds and Renovabis. Media partners include among others 3sat, the FAZ, hr-iNFO and sensor.