30 Years of „Post-Soviet“ Cinema

A thought-provoking list

On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved and ceased to exist. Not only in what were up-to-then Soviet states, but in large parts of modern-day Europe, this meant the end of a defining era. An era of direct or indirect communist rule, in all its forms and manifestations, and the different impact all this had on every aspect of life, from intellectual thinking to the mundane conditions of everyday life.

30 years later the European Film Academy together with goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film want to shine a spotlight on the 3 decades of cinema following this defining moment in history. They invited a working group of film experts from the region to establish a list of 30 works of cinema representative for this transitional period. Five experts accepted our invitation to participate in this challenging endeavor with an uncertain outcome. As a matter of fact, we were all acutely aware of the impossibility of this task and to make things even worse, none of the participants particularly likes lists or canons. The result is not a canon – it is merely an invitation. An invitation to discover works from Central and Eastern Europe that have received less attention than they deserve as well as encouragement to rediscover classics. It is also an invitation for everybody to add titles, to dispute titles and to argue about the terms „post-Soviet", and „post-socialist", especially in the context of cinema. Because, really, the main goal of our flawed, but hopefully thought-provoking list is to draw wider attention to cinema from Central and (South-) Eastern Europe in the years to come.

As some of you might have noticed with dismay, big names like Andrzej Wajda, Kira Muratova or Otar Iosseliani are missing from this selection of works. Experimental films and a surrealist short animation find themselves alongside classical works of fiction and documentary. Recent films from the past four years are missing altogether. Not because the level of filmmaking was lower – no, rather we found it impossible to judge more recent films within the greater framework of history and time.

Which are the films which provide a great introduction to three decades of post-communism? Which changes in society are visible in cinema from the region? Which events were reflected in remarkable films made in the past 30 years and in cinematic language from this part of Europe overall? Those were some of the questions the working group focused on, while at the same time being aware that certain highly acute topics were still missing or underrepresented.

Back in 1919, the first film academy worldwide was founded in Moscow. The medium of film has, to a large extent, developed alongside, in opposition to, but also within the ideological frameworks of communism in the 20th century. Now, in the year 2021, we invite you to explore, comment on and share the titles on this list from the past 30 years, while the countries and film cultures in Central and Eastern Europe enter another era. It is hard to predict with certainty what that era will bring, what name it will have and what its characteristics will be. One thing is clear however: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the so-called Eastern Block were the end of an era – but certainly not the end of original and surprising cinema.

The contributors to the working group were: Dina Iordanova, researcher, Bulgaria/Scotland (di), Greg DeCuir Jr, curator/writer, US/Serbia (gdc), Hamze Bytyci, festival director /actor /activist, Kosovo/Germany (hb), Heleen Gerritsen, festival director goEast / producer Netherlands/Germany (hg) Jindřiška Bláhová, researcher/ film critic Czech Republic (jb), Tristan Priimägi, film critic, Estonia (tp), and on behalf of the European Film Academy: Ada Solomon, producer, Romania and Matthijs Wouter Knol, CEO and director of the European Film Academy, Netherlands/Germany.

Chronolocigal List

KONEC STALINISMU V ČECHÁCH / THE DEATH OF STALINISM IN BOHEMIA
by Jan Švankmajer
1991, Czechoslovakia

ORANZHEVYE ZHILETY / ORANGE VESTS
by Yury Khashevatsky
1991, Belarus/Germany

GORILA SE KUPA U PODNE / GORILLA BATHES AT NOON
by Dušan Makavejev
1993, FR Yugoslavia/Germany

PRED DOŽDOT / BEFORE THE RAIN
by Milcho Manchevski
1994, Republic of Macedonia/UK/France

AKUMULÁTOR 1 / ACCUMULATOR 1
by Jan Svěrák
1994, Czech Republic

SÁTÁNTANGÓ / SATANSTANGO
by Béla Tarr
1994, Hungary

TITO PO DRUGI PUT MEĐU SRBIMA / TITO AMONG THE SERBS FOR THE SECOND TIME
by Želimir Žilnik
1994, FR Yugoslavia

BRAT / BROTHER
by Aleksei Balabanov
1997, Russian Federation

KHRUSTALYOV, MASHINU! / KHRUSTALYOV, MY CAR!
by Aleksei German Sr.
1998, Russian Federation/France

CHICO
by Ibolya Fekete
2001, Hungary/Germany/Croatia/Chile

NIKI ARDELEAN, COLONEL ÎN REZERVA / NIKI AND FLO
by Lucian Pintilie
2003, Romania/France

RUSSKIY KOVCHEG / RUSSIAN ARK
by Aleksander Sokurov
2002, Russian Federation/Germany

ČESKÝ SEN / CZECH DREAM
by Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
2004, Czech Republic

GEORGI I PEPERUDITE / GEORGI AND THE BUTTERFLIES
by Andrey Paounov
2004, Bulgaria

BLOKADA / BLOCKADE
by Sergei Loznitsa
2005, Russian Federation

MOARTEA DOMNULUI LĂZĂRESCU / THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU
by Cristi Puiu
2005, Romania

A FOST SAU N-A FOST? / 12:08 EAST OF BUCHA-REST
by Corneliu Porumboiu
2006, Romania

GRBAVICA / GRBAVICA: THE LAND OF MY DREAMS
by Jasmila Žbanić
2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina

RENÉ
by Helena Třeštíková
2008, Czech Republic

LITHUANIA AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE USSR
by Jonas Mekas
2009, USA/Lithuania

AUTOBIOGRAFIA LUI NICOLAE CEAUȘESCU / THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUȘESCU
by Andrei Ujică
2010, Romania

ZIMA, UKHODI! / WINTER, GO AWAY!
by Elena Khoreva, Denis Klebleev, Dmitry Kubasov, Askold Kurov, Nadezhda Leonteva, Anna Moiseenko, Madina Mustafina, Sofia Rodkevich, Anton Seregin, Alexey Zhiryakov
2012, Russian Federation

GRZELI NATELI DGEEBI / IN BLOOM
by Nana Ekvtimshvili, Simon Gross
2013, Georgia/Germany/France

HORÍCÍ KER / THE BURNING BUSH
by Agnieszka Holland
2013, Czech Republic/Poland

JUDGEMENT IN HUNGARY
by Eszter Hajdú
2013, Hungary/Germany

LEVIAFAN / LEVIATHAN
by Andrey Zvyagintsev
2014, Russian Federation

AFERIM!
by  Radu Jude
2015, Romania/Bulgaria/ Czech Republic/France

PAPUSZA
by Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze
2013, Poland

RODNYE / CLOSE RELATIONS
by Vitaly Mansky
2016, Latvia/Estonia/Ukraine/Germany

DRUGA STRANA SVEGA / THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING
by Mila Turajlić
2017, Serbia/France/Qatar

The complete film descriptions you can find at the website of the European Film Academy.

A selection of the films will be screened in the cinemas within the  22. edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Films from April 19 to 25, 2022.