blogEast is a new initiative of goEast - Festival of Central- and Eastern European Film. We hereby declare our solidarity with our colleagues and friends from Central- and Eastern Europe, who see themselves confronted with large challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the following weeks blog entries will be published here, looking at the situation from a cinematic, political and/or social point of view. blogEast is supervised and edited by the goEast team and is part of the program Pan-Europan Picknick, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main.

So what?

I missed it. I missed all the events we had for the sake of socializing. We all like them, don't we? I missed all those techno parties more than anything. Parties that don't exist in my country anyway.

Before I started typing, I wanted to put my headphones on. As I said I missed listening to techno music. I can't go out, but now it's all "live". Everything we used to see in our "normal" life. And those who were online already are now all "LIVE". Even festivals. Yes, those giant festivals that we couldn't attend anyway. They will go "live" now. Yaay ! I will get back to this point later on if I don't forget. Anyways. Then I realized that the battery of the headphone had died. The AUX cable should still be in my traveling camera bag since my last trip. It was not the first time this has happened. In the past few days, I was noticing that all the gadgets I used to carry in my equipment bag have moved closer to my working desk. Obviously, there was only one reason – not leaving the house since the Azerbaijani Government decided on the total lockdown of the country. But I'm not going to complain about how bad the authorities are. In fact, they were not completely paralyzed, on the contrary, they have handled the situation quite successfully so far. Also, we believe that it's our responsibility to flatten the curve by isolating ourselves for a while. Who knows for how long, but I believe it won't last long. Well, at least in my country.

It was hard in the beginning. The authorities announced a new set of regulations: you cannot leave the house until you get permission via an SMS system. When you get permission it's only for two hours. Doesn't matter what you have to do outside. Except in emergency cases. Even those cases were supposed to be proven with a signed declaration. #stayhome was plastered all over the official and commercial signboards. All that fearful or stressful news matched perfectly with the decision our government made. "Don't go out, there is a danger. Well, even if you don't care about it, we care about our stability." You get fined if you leave the house. It wasn't hard to understand them. For the past 30 years (since we gained our independence in the '90s) the health system in Azerbaijan has sucked. Having such an impudent virus that can't be controlled by a harsh regime was a serious threat to the Azerbaijani authorities. They couldn't detain the COVID-19 for bogus charges, so instead, citizens pay for it.

A global and historical phenomenon like this was something new that we – 21st century kids – were experiencing for the first time in our life. Especially for people like me, who do the main part of our job on the field either behind the camera or exploring and getting to know more what stories interest us. Since it began, I have been closely following the news, listening, reading, and watching different content from different sources, and desperately looking for a little hope that could calm me down while I was trying to explain to my 3-year-old kid why we don't go out, why he can't go to pre-school, and we work at home for the whole day. One thing I read from one of the sources caught my attention. The hypothesis was that 'harsh restrictions will get this crisis over much smoother or with less damage compared to a country where you can't really lock people in their places and put strict rules in place.' That theory makes a lot of sense and that's why I said they didn't completely suck. I think it's a controversial idea, but there was hope inside me that made me believe we would get through this without a catastrophe. However, staying indoors for a significant amount of time brings other difficulties, apart from financial and psychological ones. Creativity fades away slowly when we are stuck in a limited space with our daily routines. Well, it doesn't fade away from you completely. Instead, you add it to those daily routines to make one day a bit different from the previous one. Especially, when you have a small kid asking "WHY?" about everything. Enough complaining, huh?

They say: "When one door closes, another opens". Maybe, it's time to spend more time on some other projects, such as DokuBaku. The only independent international documentary film festival in Azerbaijan, of which the fourth edition will take place in October. Hopefully! That's why I think maybe it's an opportunity to focus on our festival more carefully. It's sad to see how the whole (film) industry is affected by the interference of nature. Yet it sounds very egoistic to talk about the events we are planning, while feeling "sad" about what is happening.

Is it trouble or healing? We don't know. We can't judge. We are not the lords of the planet. It is a good opportunity to think about our ambitions. To think one more time: Where does this motivation to destroy our surroundings come from? Why do we miss our "normal" life? Ahh, right! We miss going out, ruining nature again with more force, and consuming like a monster. We can't live without that. We are unable even to take a break. We can't hold ourselves. We miss it. We miss all the events we had for the sake of socializing. We all like them, don't we?

PS: I forgot to come back to the "LIVE Festivals".

Oktay Namazov