Press Release

Reluctant Feminism: goEast Symposium 2017 Traces Positioning of Female Filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe

The goEast Symposium takes place annually as a film and lecture series occurring within the scope of goEast Film Festival. This year the Symposium invites attendees to join goEast in rediscovering and honouring a group of individuals who have been consistently marginalised in the world of filmmaking: The focus here is on female directors from the East, who invariably tended to resist seeing their work placed in the context of feminism, though they stood up time and again for emancipation and equitable conditions for women (and others). The Symposium challenges participants to engage in a re-visioning of this "reluctant feminism" and also aims to examine it in relation to contemporary feminist positions in the cinema of Central and Eastern Europe.

Under the title "Reluctant Feminism: Women Filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe", curator Barbara Wurm will present a rich and varied program, consisting of 26 films, six lectures and three panel discussions, from 27th to 30th April in the framework of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film (running from April 26th to May 2nd 2017 in Wiesbaden, Germany).



The film program for the Symposium is composed of twelve feature-length films, two films of extended length and twelve short films, all taken from diverse socialist and post-socialist eras and regions. The majority of the female directors featured here hail from the USSR and a short film program is dedicated to the vast array of prominent Polish female documentary filmmakers, but Bulgaria, Bosnia and Hungary as well as East Germany and Czechoslovakia also receive ample attention. Works from classic filmmakers such as Wanda Jakubowska, Larisa Shepitko, Lana Gogoberidze and Kira Muratova will be joined by long-overdue reappraisals of films such as Binka Zhelyazkova's THE LAST WORD (POSLEDNATA DUMA, Bulgaria, 1973), Judit Elek's MAYBE TOMORROW (MAJD HOLNAP, Hungary, 1980) and Dinara Asanova's DEAR, DEAREST, BELOVED, UNIQUE... (MILY, DOROGOY, LYUBIMY, EDINSTVENNY, USSR, 1984).

The spectrum covers works from the 1930s up to the present day: TORN BOOTS (RVANYE BASHMAKI, USSR, 1933) by Margarita Barskaya for instance, set in Germany in the years of the Great Depression, is a socially critical film about poverty and unemployment – as seen through the eyes of children (and their unemployed mothers). Jump ahead to East Germany of the 1960s: In WE ARE GETTING DIVORCED (WIR LASSEN UNS SCHEIDEN, GDR, 1968), the second film from Ingrid Reschke — known alongside Iris Gusner as one of the "DEFA ladies" — 8-year-old Manni must struggle through his parents' dramatic divorce. Staged as a comedy with exquisitely bone-dry humour, the film reflects on the institutions of marriage and film with copious amounts of sensitivity and empathy.

Finally, there is little to laugh at in FOR THOSE WHO CAN TELL NO TALES (ZA ONE KOJE NE MOGU DA GOVORE, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2013) by Jasmila Žbanić, in which an Australian tourist discovers traces of wartime atrocities, including rape, in a presumably idyllic little town on the border between Bosnia and Serbia.



There are also many interesting positions to be discovered in the lecture series: In FEMINISM – THAT WAS NO PEJORATIVE IN THE GDR, Author and curator Cornelia Klauß (Berlin) contrasts DEFA productions from female filmmakers with works from East Germany's experimental underground scene. With Prague-based feminist, film director, screenwriter and journalist Pavla Frýdlová as our guide, we will take a look at all things Chytilová, one of the leading protagonists of the Czechoslovakian New Wave: CZECH CINEMA AND FEMINISM – THE CASE OF VĚRA CHYTILOVÁ questions among other things whether not only Chytilová's universally lauded DAISIES but also THE APPLE GAME (HRA O JABLKO, Czechoslovakia 1976), which will be screened in the Symposium, can make claims to being a feminist work. By contrast, the work of Vera Stroeva (1901-1993) is acutely reluctant in its feminism: In his lecture IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MIGHT – VERA STROEVA'S OTHER FEMALE INDEPENDENCE, Cologne-based film critic and programmer Olaf Möller will shed light on the life and work of this Soviet "system" director who was consistently denied the limelight.


Also featured in the lecture program:

Beata Hock, PhD, cultural studies scholar and art historian, Leipzig

Agnieszka Wiśniewska, activist, feminist and journalist, Warsaw

Barbara Wurm, Slavist and author, Berlin


Featured participants in the panel discussions and talks include:
Salomé Alexi (director, Hamburg)
Masha Godovannaya (experimental filmmaker, St. Petersburg)
Lana Gogoberidze (director, Tiflis)
Agnieszka Holland (director, Warsaw)
Márta Mészáros (director, Budapest)
Mima Simić (author, activist, Zagreb)