First 2024 Program Highlights Revealed // Symposium: "The Other Queers – Cinematic Images from the Periphery of Europe" // Fostering Emerging Filmmakers and Up-and-Coming Producers in the East-West Talent Lab

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 31 January 2024

Every year since 2001, goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, hosted by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, transforms the Hessian state capital of Wiesbaden into one of the most internationally significant platforms for cinema from Central and Eastern Europe. With its program consisting of film screenings and accompanying events, goEast’s reach extends beyond regional audiences – to communities with histories of migration from Eastern Europe and industry guests from the international film sector alike. The film festival showcases current cinematic art from Central and Eastern Europe and provides a platform for discussing urgent social and political issues. In the scope of film-historical programs, goEast renders the cinema heritage of Central and Eastern Europe visible, often in collaboration with archives from Germany and abroad. These diverse series are carefully assembled by qualified guest curators and cinema professionals. In the scope of the goEast Symposium, film scholarship meets the film industry, while the Competition features screenings of contemporary cinema from Central and Eastern Europe, with the filmmakers in attendance. The sidebar program provides space for video art, digital audio-visual formats and VR, while the East-West Talent Lab offers active support for up-and-coming film professionals from Central and Eastern Europe. Moreover, goEast also functions as a place where film guests can expand their networks and enter into dialogue with one another, and as a platform for the discussion of current socio-political topics.

Cost-Saving Measures

The start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine just under two years ago marked a historical turning point that has also resulted in financial consequences for goEast. In light of continually increasing costs and despite the unchanged, sustained level of support and funding from HessenFilm & Medien GmbH, the State Capital Wiesbaden and Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, goEast finds itself forced to curtail its programming radically in 2024. In addition, goEast must reduce the number of film guests invited to participate in the festival by nearly half.

In the words of Festival Director Heleen Gerritsen: “goEast’s focus region remains enormously relevant. Instead of cutting staff or particularly cost-intensive historical programs such as the Symposium, we were left with no choice this year but to eliminate three central programming elements entirely – namely the traditional Homage section, the Bioscope program and our VR/XR program. Insider knowledge of Eastern Europe, highly specialised expertise and technical know-how are indispensable for goEast. In spite of all this, we hope the festival is received enthusiastically by our audience and that we may see extra ticket sales that make it clear that this festival, with its large range of programming, is both relevant and appreciated.”

Naturally, in spite of the cuts, the goEast team, along with its guest curators, is highly motivated to assemble this year’s festival program. From 24 to 30 April 2024, goEast is delighted to welcome audiences both new and old to Wiesbaden to discover Central and Eastern European cinema through film screenings, film talks and encounters with filmmakers.

Symposium: “The Other Queers – Cinematic Images from the Periphery of Europe”

In the annual Symposium section, goEast has devoted itself since 2001 to exploring topics, regions and currents in Central and Eastern European cinema from film-historical, sociological and political perspectives. As part of the Cinema Archipelago series, the program in 2024 is made possible again with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.

In 2023, under the title “Decolonizing the (Post-)Soviet Screen” the Symposium set a new record for attendance. More than 3,000 industry guests and experts from Germany and abroad turned out for the events and film screenings. For 2024, co-curators Jasmina Šepetavc (University of Ljubljana, LGBT Film Festival Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Yulia Serdyukova (Freefilmers, Kyiv) are gathering film scholars, activists, filmmakers, student groups and colleagues from other festivals with a focus on queer cinema at Museum Wiesbaden under the programmatic title “The Other Queers”. Discussion panels and lectures by renowned scolars like Nebojša Jovanović, Katja Čičigoj and others provide the theoretical framework of the event.

From a global perspective, the discussion about queer film history is still disproportionately focussed on Western film images. The typical discourse about queerness implies a rather receptive West and a homophobic Eastern Europe and reinforces the notion that the West has undergone a linear development towards more tolerance, acceptance and public visibility for LGBTQ+ individuals and issues, while the East “lags behind” due to its past. This conception of a homophobic past followed by a liberal attitude towards queerness after the events of 1989/90 is often inaccurate. Among other things, the films of the Symposium present Eastern European images of LGBTQ+ existence that often stood in an ambivalent relation to public attitudes regarding homosexuality.

Since its inception, goEast Film Festival’s central missions have included the platforming and amplification of marginalised cinematic languages and voices from Central and Eastern Europe beyond dominant mainstream narratives. This also comes to bear in the 2024 Symposium. The film program consists of historical and contemporary works, including the feature-length films FIVE MINUTES OF PARADISE (Yugoslavia, 1959) by Igor Pretnar, DUBRAVKA (Ukrainian SSR, 1967) by Radomir Vasilevsky, KILL ME GENTLY (Yugoslavia, 1979) by Boštjan Hladnik and A SEVERE YOUNG MAN (Soviet Union, 1935) by Abram Room. The program will be complemented by diverse short film programs: including queer and subversive cinema from Ukraine, a program featuring short films from Central Asia and the Caucasus curated by the artists’ collective krёlex zentre from Kazakhstan, Queer Feminist Porn Shorts and short films from former Yugoslavia.krёlex zentre will also open the overall program with a performance at Murnau-Filmtheater. In addition, the section includes a music video compilation featuring pioneering works from Eastern Europe’s queer, alternative scene produced between 1985 and 1999, assembled by film researcher and music editor Natalie Gravenor.

Call for Submissions Still Open for East-West Talent Lab (Deadline: 27 February)

The East-West Talent Lab has firmly established itself within the international film industry. Former participants Aleksander Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka from Belarus have even gone on to receive nominations for the European Film Award for their film MOTHERLAND. Three East-West Talent Lab-alumni have films in this year’s Berlinale Forum program: producer Michael Kalb with SHAHID, producer Thomas Kaske with THE NIGHTS STILL SMELL OF GUNPOWDER and producer Ewelina Rosinska with WHAT DID YOU DREAM LAST NIGHT, PARAJANOV? In 2024, goEast is once again supporting emerging filmmakers and up-and-coming producers from Central and Eastern Europe, by connecting them with one another and with peers from Hessen and the rest of Germany.  The emphasis of this year’s program, coordinated by Andrea Wink, once again lies on documentary formats. From now until 27 February 2024, filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe can submit their project ideas in development. Producers from Central and Eastern Europe as well as Germany without a current project can also apply to participate in the East-West Talent Lab. In 2024, the Lab will once again feature two awards: the Renovabis Research Grant, endowed with 3,500 euros, for a documentary film project treating human rights and/or minority rights, and the Pitch-the-Doc Award, featuring a training package for the support of project development, valued at 500 euros. Participants can look forward to a full five-day program consisting of a masterclass, workshops, the goEast Human Rights Sunday and opportunities to network with television editors and funding institutions, as well as diverse film screenings.

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

The full program for the 24th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film will be announced in March.

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 German solidarity initiative for Eastern Europe Renovabis and the Central and Eastern European Online Library GmbH / CEEOL. Primary media partners include 3sat, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.