goEast 2023: Introducing the Competition Jury // Press Conference: Encountering Eastern Europe on an Equal Footing

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 19 April 2023 

Encountering Eastern Europe on an equal footing – that has been goEast’s motto since the first edition of the festival.  That means talking WITH Eastern Europe, and not just ABOUT Eastern Europe.  

Introducing the Competition Jury  

The festival team is delighted to reveal the members of the International Competition jury. Chairing the international goEast jury is prize-winning director, critic and festival curator Rada Šešić. Šešić grew up in former Yugoslavia and resides today in The Netherlands. She founded the documentary film competition at Sarajevo Film Festival, and is active as a curator for a range of other festivals. In addition, Šešić is a lecturer at the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam and festival director at Eastern Neighbours Film Festival in The Hague. Šešić is joined on the jury by last year’s Golden Lily award winner, Kaltrina Krasniqi from Kosovo. Krasniqi is a filmmaker and co-founder of the “Kosovo Oral History Initiative” and the cultural café “Dit’ e Nat’”. Her debut film VERA DREAMS OF THE SEA celebrated its premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival and went on to win numerous further international prizes last year in addition to the Golden Lily in Wiesbaden. Director Mikhail Borodin was born in Uzbekistan. His fiction-feature debut CONVENIENCE STORE celebrated its premiere at the 2022 Berlinale. He made an appearance in Wiesbaden the same year, at goEast, with his documentary film COTTON100%, which deals with forced labour in Uzbekistan. In 2022, he also co-founded the Tashkent Film School together with film producer Julia Shaginurova. In addition, he heads the production company SESTRA Films. Belarusian documentary filmmaker and trained cameraman Andrei Kutsila, whose film STRIP AND WAR celebrated its world premiere at goEast Film Festival in 2019, where it won the FIPRESCI Award, is also a member of this year’s jury. In early 2023, Kutsila, who has lived in exile in Poland for a number of years, founded the Belarusian Independent Film Academy together with other independent filmmakers from Belarus. Finally, born in South Africa, Justine Waddell was previously active as an actress for a long period. These days, she works as a producer, and collaborates frequently with filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe. In 2021, with support from BFI-FAN Fund, she founded the online platform Klassiki, which offers a cinephile audience online access to an exclusive selection of first-class films from Eastern Europe, the Baltic states and Central Asia. 

The goEast Press Conference 

Festival director Heleen Gerritsen presented the programme for goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film on Wednesday, 19 April, at a press conference hosted by Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne. Taking place this year from Wednesday, 26 April, to Tuesday, 2 May, goEast features 110 films from 18 countries.  

Attendees can look forward to 16 German premieres, one international premiere and one world premiere. The film-historical sections, numerous lectures and a host of film talks also promise exciting cinema experiences, as does the second edition of the Cinema Archipelago supporting programme, which aims to create new spaces for the reception of cinema and audio-visual art forms. 

“The City of Wiesbaden is proud of the many lines, extending long into the past, that connect the city to Eastern Europe, which we have watched with great concern for more then a year now due to the war in Ukraine. So it is that I am even more pleased that we will soon be able to set a positive example once again with the 23rd edition of goEast Film Festival and experience a range of exciting films in the cinema that offer a look at the inhabitants of Central and Eastern European countries and their stories”, observed Ellen M. Harrington, director of Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum – DFF.  “I would like to thank the City of Wiesbaden, where the DFF was founded more than 70 years ago, and Axel Imholz in particular, for the many years of extensive support that have made this festival possible”, Harrington continued.  

In the goEast Competition, current film productions are vying for the festival’s three main prizes, awarded by an international jury: the “Golden Lily” for Best Film, endowed with 10,000 euros in prize money; the Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director, endowed with 7,500 euros; and the newly created CEEOL Award for Best Documentary Film, endowed with 4,000 euros in prize money. In addition, a dedicated jury representing FIPRESCI is presenting two International Film Critic’s Awards. 

As Heleen Gerritsen, goEast festival director since 2017, explained: “The 23rd edition of goEast starts off with a strong Competition and a selection of special film guests. Encountering Eastern Europe on an equal footing – that has been goEast’s motto since the first edition of the festival. That means talking WITH Eastern Europe, and not just ABOUT Eastern Europe. In times of war and cultural misunderstandings, forums for dialogue like ours are more important than ever.” 

Around 350 guests from the Central and Eastern European film industry are expected to attend the festival in Wiesbaden. It is a particularly special honour to welcome Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić, the subject of this year’s Portrait section. In the scope of film talks and an extensive workshop conversation, Žbanić will provide insight into her considerable oeuvre.

The Symposium “Decolonizing the (Post-) Soviet Screen” explores the end of the “post-Soviet” era: numerous film scholars and filmmakers from the post-Soviet space will be discussing diverse aspects of decolonization in the scope of lectures, panels and an accompanying film programme. 

Platforming and amplifying new, hitherto marginalised cinematic languages and voices from Central and Eastern Europe outside of dominant mainstream narratives has been among goEast’s central missions since its inception in 2001. In this regard, this year’s focus on (post-) Soviet cinema as seen through the “decolonizing lens” within the programme of Cinema Archipelago is not entirely novel. The war in Ukraine and the many heated discussions (in Germany as well) about how or whether to engage with Russian culture have made the topic relevant and debate necessary. Further sections like the Anarcho Shorts or the RheinMain Short Film Award programme feature short films from a wide range of genres. The archive presentation, dedicated this year to Ljubljana’s Slovenska kinoteka, includes a screening of Živojin Pavlović’s FAREWELL UNTIL THE NEXT WAR (Yugoslavia, 1980). The Matinee at Caligari FilmBühne on Sunday, 30 April, features a screening of GUARDIAN OF THE FRONTIER (France, Slovenia, Germany, 2002) by Maja Weiss. The Czech Institute of Documentary Film (IDF), which has been supporting creative documentary films from Central and Eastern Europe since 2001, is in the spotlight as well with a film programme that offers festivalgoers the chance to explore the “ani-doc” or animated documentary film genre. There will be an accompanying workshop for young people led by Prague-based duo Nazlı Kaya and Tomáš Doruška at Wiesbaden’s Medienwerkstatt, where participants will have the opportunity to experiment with the animated documentary film genre themselves. 

Anna Schoeppe, CEO of HessenFilm, is especially enthusiastic about this year’s edition: “As an established highlight in Hessen’s cultural calendar, goEast brings contemporary cinema from Central and Eastern Europe to the Rhine-Main region. In doing so, goEast also conceives of film as a medium that fosters cultural dialogue and exchange: between filmmakers and audience, and between up-and-coming directors from East and West. I am looking forward to a programme that provides an opportunity to experience the diversity of Central and Eastern European culture in Wiesbaden!” 

For Axel Imholz, head of the State Capital of Wiesbaden’s Cultural Department, goEast Film Festival is of particular relevance at the present moment. As he expressed the context: “Russia’s attack, the immeasurable suffering and destruction in Ukraine, all that is still present, day in and day out. This means that a festival like goEast, which provides a platform to filmmakers and attendees from East and West, not only a cinematic one but one for dialogue too, remains more incredibly valuable than ever.” 

Karin Wolff, managing director of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, which is sponsoring the innovative supporting programme Cinema Archipelago for the second time, sees the programme’s mission as one of strengthening solidarity and understanding: “After a successful inaugural edition, the Cinema Archipelago supporting programme is back for another round at goEast. The festival, which is hosted by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, is placing new medial forms of expression in its focus, while at the same time continuing to grapple with the impact of the sustained Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Artists from Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus and many other Central and Eastern European nations who will be making guest appearances at this year’s festival wish to demonstrate in widely varying areas how tense the current relationship is between their own respective cultures and Russian culture, as well as the immense individuality that can be discovered in their own cultural scenes. Attendees can look forward to a multi-faceted programme consisting of classic and new formats. We are very excited about this year’s festival and wish everyone great success!” 

The newly designed festival website has already gone live and the full programme is also available online. goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film kicks off for the 23rd time on 26 April – with a festive screening of the opening film AURORA’S SUNRISE (Armenia, Germany, Lithuania, 2022) from Armenian director Inna Sahakyanin at Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne.  

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

The full program for the 23rd edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film is currently available online. 

goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film is hosted 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, the film festival funding program of the Goethe-Institut in co-operation with the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, Renovabis, the City of Eschborn, Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds and the Central and Eastern European Online Library GmbH / CEEOL. Primary media partners include 3sat, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.