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21st Edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film (20-26 April 2021) // goEast Aims to Return to the Cinema // goEast Symposium 2021: "Unveiling Central Asia" // Emerging Together, Beyond Borders – Apply Now for the East-West Talent Lab

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 2 February 2021

From 20 to 26 April 2021, goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, organised by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, will be presenting the full creative spectrum of the cinema scenes of Central and Eastern Europe, not only online, but, circumstances permitting, once again where the festival's programming ultimately belongs: in the cinemas and neighbourhoods of the Rhine-Main region. Last year, goEast reacted to the difficult situation for the cultural sector brought on by the spread of Covid-19 with its first hybrid festival programme spread out throughout the entire year. For the 21st edition of goEast, the festival organisers are seeking to make a return to the cinema, under diligent observation of current hygiene protocols. In addition, online event programming will provide as many fans of the often still-underexposed cinema of Central and Eastern Europe as possible with a chance to partake in a (film) cultural experience of a very special kind.

"Unveiling Central Asia" – goEast Symposium

This year, five Central Asian republics are celebrating 30 years of independence and at the same time facing great challenges. In the Symposium "Unveiling Central Asia", goEast is devoting itself to the film cultures of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. With lectures, discussions and a film programme, curated by experts such as Prof. Dr. Birgit Beumers, Chair of Slavic Literatures and Cultures at the University of Passau, and Joël Chapron, consultant for Central Asia and Russia at Cannes Film Festival, the festival will take an expansive look at a cinema landscape which, while represented throughout the years at goEast, has never been at the centre of attention.

As a starting point the Symposium intends to focus on the influence of the Soviet Union on the film-historical development of the region from 1922 on. Cinema was to play a central role in "taming" the wild territories of Central Asia and convincing illiterate populations of the achievements of the Soviet regime. Examples of this posture of the USSR as a colonial power can be found in the early "kulturfilms", such as Vladimir Erofeev's PAMIR, ROOF OF THE WORLD (Krysha mira, USSR, 1927) or Viktor Turin's TURKSIB (USSR, 1929).

In the first decades following World War Two, the nations of Central Asia were considered a launch pad for the careers of young filmmakers from Moscow and Kyiv. However, it was also during this period that first conflicts between the poles of Soviet belonging and national identity began to emerge. Audiences were increasingly turning their attention to domestic genre film productions, such as Shukhrat Abbassov's Uzbek-language comedy THE TALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Mahallada duv-duv gap, Uzbek SSR, 1960) or Ali Hamroyev's WITHOUT FEAR (Bez strakha, Uzbek SSR, 1972). The latter, a "red western", treats the "hujum", as the forced unveiling of women was known, and documents the inner turmoil of the female inhabitants of Central Asia, caught between progress and tradition.

With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the countries of Central Asia turned away from the Soviet value system and attempted to return to their roots, without recourse to national values. As a result, diverse ethnic and religious groups, nomads and settled peoples, adherents of Tengriism and Islam, were all thrown together to form a "nation". The conflicts arising from this process are still mirrored in the quirky, serious and parodic films emanating from these regions today.

The goEast Symposium also pays special attention to the Kazakh New Wave and its influence in the region in the transition years and the early 2000s. In addition to the re-examination of the Soviet era, as in Yusup Razykov's ORATOR (Voiz, Uzbekistan, 1999), the films of this period address contemporary forms of bride-kidnapping, as in Ernest Abdyzhaparov's PURE COOLNESS (Boz salkyn, Kyrgyzstan, 2007), the culture of remembrance, as in Saodat Ismailova's 40 DAYS OF SILENCE (Chilla, Uzbekistan, 2014), or breaking with traditional gender roles, as in Abai Kulbai's SWIFT (Strizh, Kazakhstan, 2007). In spite of the continued development, rebuilding and independence of Central Asia's film industries, today there are still differences between the various national cinematographies. Thus, the Symposium also examines the fact that Kazakhstan for instance boasts one of the most developed film industries in the region, while the branch remains practically dormant in Turkmenistan today.

Emerging Together, Beyond Borders

Young filmmakers currently have the opportunity to register to take part in goEast's East-West Talent Lab – the call for applications is open until 1 March 2021. This programme for emerging talent is intended for filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe as well as Germany who would like to develop their current projects and forge connections to their peers. In addition to directors working on their first projects, producers with no specific projects of their own are also eligible to attend. The programme supports a total of 30 emerging talents: following an intense programme consisting of workshops on film financing, distribution strategies and content development, the participants have the chance to present their ideas to a three-member expert jury in the scope of a public pitching session. The most innovative project is honoured with the goEast Development Award, endowed with 3,500 euros in prize money. The section also features a research grant of 3,500 euros for a documentary film project focusing on human rights issues. "Last year, the East-West Talent Lab showed that supporting young talents can even work under the conditions of a pandemic. With virtual workshops and numerous video conferences, the team at goEast gained valuable experience, from which we can draw in the future. Still, meeting face-to-face and sharing things in person is of course a big part of fostering our young talents from Central and Eastern Europe. I am cautiously optimistic that this will be possible again this year," commented Andrea Wink, co-ordinator of the talent development programme at goEast.

You can find images related to the festival and festival programming in our download section.

The full programme for the 21st edition of goEast – Festival of Central and European Film will be announced in late March.

goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film is organised by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and made possible with the support of numerous partners. Primary funding partners are HessenFilm und Medien GmbH, the State Capital Wiesbaden, Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, BHF BANK Foundation, Adolf und Luisa Haeuser-Stiftung für Kunst und Kulturpflege, Renovabis, the German Federal Foreign Ministry and Deutsch-Tschechische Zukunftsfonds. Media partners include 3sat, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.