Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 7 February 2023
For the 23rd time, goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film is bringing a multifaceted program featuring film screenings and accompanying events to Wiesbaden and the Rhine-Main region. The festival, organised by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, sees itself as a window to Central and Eastern Europe and a continual builder of intercultural bridges to the East. Traditionally, goEast has always been deeply involved with the contemporary political and cultural situation in the region.
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine represents a historical rupture and presents this film festival specialised in Central and Eastern European subject matter with great challenges. The goEast team’s solidarity continues to be with the people of Ukraine: “Our thoughts are constantly with our colleagues, friends and relatives affected by Russian aggression,” as Heleen Gerritsen, director of the festival, states, adding: “At the same time, the situation has motivated us more than ever to present the film cultures of our target region, which are underrepresented in German cinemas, in all their diversity and uniqueness.” From 26 April to 2 May 2023, goEast extends an invitation to come to Wiesbaden and get to know Central and Eastern European cinema in the scope of film screenings, film talks and encounters with film makers.
Symposium: Decolonizing the (Post-)Soviet Screen
In the Symposium, goEast traditionally takes a closer look at topics, regions and currents within Central and Eastern European cinema. In 2023, the program will take place as part of the Cinema Archipelago series, made possible with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.
Since its inception in 2001, goEast Film Festival’s central missions have included the platforming and amplification of new, previously marginalised cinematic languages and voices from Central and Eastern Europe beyond dominant mainstream narratives. As such, this year’s focus on (post-)Soviet cinema, as seen through the “decolonising lens”, is not entirely novel for the festival. Nevertheless, like many other cultural institutions dealing with the Central and Eastern European space, the goEast team is aware that the festival has traditionally granted Russia a dominant position in the festival program more than other countries within the target region. Shifting and re-distributing attention have become a vital curatorial responsibility.
The term decolonisation is often met with scepticism in the Eastern European context – where it has been dismissed as a fashionable Western buzzword that goes hand in hand with “wokeness” and “cancel culture”. Here it is important to note that the specific form of Soviet/Russian colonialism which the Symposium will be treating differs significantly from that of other European colonial powers – not least of which when it comes to cinema: with the establishment of film studios and infrastructures in its republics, Soviet cultural policy also facilitated the local empowerment of the “other nationalities”, albeit centrally organised and conducted in the Russian language as lingua franca.
Nevertheless, the “decolonising lens” is a useful tool for the analysis of a region in turmoil, and the festival team recalls how the term “feminism” used in an Eastern European context initially met with resistance and incomprehension at the 2017 goEast Symposium “Reluctant Feminism”, before soon experiencing greater acceptance.
Submissions to Symposium Open until 1 March
With the support of luminaries from the worlds of film scholarship and filmmaking, such as Prof. Nancy Condee, Ivan Kozlenko, Dita Rietuma, Daria Badior, Igor Soukmanov, Oleksiy Radinsky, Valentyn Vasyanovych and Davra Collective, curators Barbara Wurm and Heleen Gerritsen will take the historical rupture represented by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine as a departure point to reflect on several key aspects of the institutional and political entanglement of the non-Russian film cultures – above all the Ukrainian – with the one-time power centre of Moscow. Discussion will cover a wide range of topics: Ukrainian cinema of the past and future; the traces of the imperial in “non-Russian Russia”, for instance in Sakha or the North Caucasus region; the film festival landscape beyond Moscow – from Minsk to Tashkent (historically and today); the cinematic and film-cultural legacy of the USSR – from Kyiv and Riga to Tbilisi and Yerevan back to Wiesbaden, as well as the debate on the appropriate approach to canons and classics; the question of Soviet anti-colonialism; the question of who owns the rights and copies of Soviet films produced by non-Russians; the cultural and national memory of alternative, non-state film and photo archives; and documentary cinema as a space for reflection on what the notions of Soviet and post-Soviet once signified and can signify today.
Within the Symposium, these topics will be explored from film-historical, political and sociological angles, featuring special guest presenters from the fields of film scholarship and filmmaking practice. To accompany the Symposium of the 23rd edition of goEast, a special issue of Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe is to be compiled and published, under the title “Decolonizing the (post-)Soviet Screen”. Contributions that aim to apply the decolonisation concept in the context of the (post-)Soviet space (including Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, the Caucasus, Russia and its autonomous regions) can be submitted from now until 1 March.