goEast Presents the Heart of the Festival: The International Competition Opening Film // Multi-Faceted – The goEast Competition // Regionality Originality in goEast Bioscope // Sidebar Programme: Activism, Exhibition, River Boat Trip and Parties// Still Time to Register for Accreditation // Press Conference on Wednesday, 19 April at 11:00 a.m.

Wiesbaden/Frankfurt, 4 April 2023 

Only three weeks remain until the opening of the 23rd edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, hosted by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and taking place in Wiesbaden and the surrounding region from 26 April to 2 May. A portion of the programme will also be available for online streaming in Germany in the scope of a collaboration with VoD platform Filmwerte. 


The goEast Opening Film – AURORA’S SUNRISE 

The 23rd edition of goEast opens with AURORA’S SUNRISE (Armenia, Germany, Lithuania, 2022). This creative forensic investigation from director Inna Sahakyan leads us back to the 1910s, when a nightmarish genocide was perpetrated against the Armenian people. The young Armenian Arshaluys Mardigian survived the mass murder and managed to emigrate to the USA, where she published her autobiography. The book was taken up in Hollywood in 1919 and adapted for the screen under the title AUCTION OF SOULS. This silent film relates Arshaluys Mardigian’s struggle to survive and features Arshaluys herself in the leading role. The film was a box-office hit, though sadly only fragments have been preserved. Inna Sahakyan combines this archival material with animated sequences, reconstructing the story and bearing witness to the horrific events of the Armenian Genocide, a subject as relevant today as ever. 

Films by Women about Women, Dramas, Documentary Films, Comedies and Portraits from Central and Eastern Europe – The Full Range of Diversity in the goEast Competition 

The heart of the festival, the Competition section, encompasses an extensive programme and offers a wide audience from Wiesbaden and the surrounding area the opportunity to get to know highlights from the contemporary Central and Eastern European cinema scene. A five-member international jury presides over awards valued in total at 21,500 euros, while a dedicated FIPRESCI jury presents two International Film Critic’s Awards. Especially coveted here is the “Golden Lily”, the main award of the goEast Competition, endowed with 10,000 euros in prize money. The State Capital Wiesbaden also presents the Award for Best Director, endowed with 7,500 euros. 

Following an opening film about one woman’s fate, made by a woman, the Competition kicks off with NOT A THING (Veszélyes lehet a fagyi, Hungary, 2022) directed by Fanni Szilágyi. Adèl and Evá are identical twins that find themselves in sharply contrasting life situations, when their already tense sibling dynamic takes a turn for the even more dramatic. In Cristina Groșan’s feministic sci-fi drama ORDINARY FAILURES (Běžná selhání, Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, 2022), the destinies of three women intersect as the world is about to end. In REMEMBER TO BLINK (Per arti, Lithuania, 2022) by Austėja Urbaitė, a French married couple preparing to adopt a pair of siblings from Lithuania resolves to hire Lithuanian university student Gabriele to interpret for and support the children in their acclimation phase – the result is a compelling, psychologically profound drama. Siniša Cvetić’s THE BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST (Usekovanje, Serbia, 2022) is also a turbulent and dramatic affair: UFOs, parallel universes, alcohol consumption, intergenerational conflicts and drugs collide during an evening meal with the whole family at mom and dad’s place during the pandemic. Marko Šantić’s WAKE ME (Zbudi me, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, 2022) is another socially critical drama. Following an accident, Rok suffers from temporary memory loss and no longer even recognises his girlfriend, Rina. He can only recall his hometown, and his former home there. After returning and being met with a chilly reception, Rok gradually begins to piece together his past, as memories of his xenophobic gang of friends, manipulation and violence come flooding back. The documentary portrait of society MOTHERLAND (Mutterland, Sweden, Ukraine, Norway, 2022), directed by Alexander Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka from Belarus, was pitched for the first time in 2019 at the East-West Talent Lab, where it won the Renovabis Research Grant for documentary films with a human rights focus. Belarusian mother Svetlana doesn’t believe that her son committed suicide while completing his military service, as the official version has it. She fights to hold her son’s murderers accountable, and to put an end to the Belarusian army’s vicious hazing practices that claimed her son’s life. Not long after, demonstrations following the re-election of Alexander Lukashenka begin, with their accompanying brutal repression by the authorities. The coming-of-age-in-war documentary WE WILL NOT FADE AWAY (My ne zgasniemo, Ukraine, France, Poland, 2023), directed by Alisa Kovalenko, follows a group of adolescents growing up in Donbas. The noise of machine gun fire is just as much a part of everyday life for the group of friends as the common question of what comes after graduation. A question with an especially bitter aftertaste, with perspectives in their home country so limited and the war destroying places that once provided a sense of comfort and familiarity. Their hopes and dreams are indestructible, however. With her film HOME GAMES, Alisa Kovalenko previously won the Award for Cultural Diversity at goEast in 2019. 

Two films from Central Asia occupy a special place in the Competition programme. Memory loss is also an issue in the portrait of Kirghiz society THIS IS WHAT I REMEMBER (Esimde, Kirghizstan, Japan, The Netherlands, France, 2022) from veteran filmmaker Aktan Arym Kubat. Zarlyk, a man once considered missing, returns to Kirghizstan after 20 years of labouring as a “guest worker” in Russia. Suffering from amnesia, Zarlyk is unable to relate to his family. Stoic and silent, he does the only thing that has remained in his recollection: liberating the village streets from rubbish. The trauma from guest work, the opposing forces in a post-Soviet village community and a family’s attempt to reunite in spite of multiple ruptures are all depicted with a steady hand. With his revenge-Western GOLIATH (Kazakhstan, 2022), director and regular goEast guest Adilkhan Yerzhanov takes us back again to Karatas: the village in the middle of nowhere in Kazakhstan where many of Yerzhanov’s stories have previously been set. Here unscrupulous gangster boss Poshaev calls the shots. Yerzhanov’s retelling of the “David versus Goliath” trope unfolds deliberately with an eye to the universal. 

Genre film is also present beyond the work of Adilkhan Yerzhanov. First, there is the Ukrainian film noir outing LA PALISIADA (Ukraine, 2023) by Philip Sotnychenko, which tells the tale of Aisel and Kiril, two kids growing up in the mid-’90s within highly patriarchal structures. Their fathers, both police officers, are investigating a murder. Alas, in their haste to present a perpetrator to the public, the detectives subvert the law. Then there’s Nenad Pavlović’s conspiracy thriller TRAIL OF THE BEAST (Trag divljači, Serbia, 2022), set in Belgrade in 1979. Here, the budding journalist Jugoslav Bucilo begins to research the case of the former student leader Aljoša Josić, who is considered a missing person. His efforts end up entangling him in a murder case, in which both Aljoša himself and his father Blagoje – a senior intelligence agency official, played by cult actor Miki Manojlović – appear to be involved. In the scope of this year’s archive presentation, we will also be showing a film by Nenad Pavlović’s father Živojin, FAREWELL UNTIL THE NEXT WAR (Nasvidenje v naslednji vojni, Yugoslavia, 1980). TRAIL OF THE BEAST can also be read as an homage to the work of the father. 

With JANUARY (Janvāris, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, 2022), director Viesturs Kairišs takes the audience back to the Baltic region in the year 1991, as Soviet special forces units are tasked with trying to repress the movement for Baltic independence. POLISH PRAYERS (Switzerland, Poland, 2022), director Hanka Nobis’ documentary film debut, is a paradoxical portrait. For four years, she accompanies Antek, a young man deeply embedded in a highly religious and conservative family in today’s Poland whose life is shaped by Catholicism, nationalism and a patriarchal conception of masculinity. 

The film not only provides insight into the inner turmoil of a young individual – it also reveals a deep rift at the heart of Polish society. The powerful montage film MANIFESTO (Russia, 2022), directed by Angie Vinchito (a pseudonym, employed to protect the identity of the Russian filmmaker), shows the violence that characterises the school system and everyday life in Russia, as seen from the perspective of school children and adolescents.  

Composed of YouTube and mobile phone videos, the film illustrates systematic brutality against young people.

The documentary film FLOTACIJA (Serbia, 2023), a work full of magical realism, is celebrating its international premiere in Wiesbaden. In the Eastern Serbian town of Majdanpek, co-directors Alessandra Tatić and Eluned Zoë Aiano record the collision between magic and economic crisis. FLOTACIJA also began its journey at Wiesbaden’s East-West Talent Lab. 

Last but not least: in the brilliant comedy PARADE (Paradas, Lithuania, 2022), director Titas Laucius stages a wily match against a church tribunal. When Miglė’s youth brass ensemble is tapped to take part in a municipal parade, unlucky occurrences start to pile up in the life of the tough band director: her daughter causes a boy to knock out a tooth with his own trumpet, before revealing that she would rather devote herself to capoeira rather than pursuing music. As if that weren’t enough, Miglė’s ex-husband informs the family that his mother has passed and asks Miglė to petition a Catholic court to have their marriage annulled.  

Bioscope: Deep Cinematic Cuts from Central and Eastern Europe 

In a space beyond competition fever and the need to present premieres, the Bioscope section promises unique cinematic experiences and highlights from the festival circuit. On offer here: a broad spectrum of current film productions from Central and Eastern Europe, showcasing the region’s full artistic and thematic range – from diverse genre films to experimental works. In the multi-award-winning MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MARRIAGE (Latvia, USA, Luxemburg, 2022), Signe Baumane uses copious humour and emotion as she traces the stages of protagonist Zelma’s emancipation in her signature animation style, with a personal and forgiving touch. Berlinale award-winner Radu Jude, a familiar face at goEast, is on board here too. His most recent short films have been collected for the first time in CINEMA ALMANAC (Almanah Cinema: Șase filme scurte de Radu Jude, Romania, 2022), which reflects his curiosity for a variety of subjects and formal approaches. THE HAMLET SYNDROME (Das Hamlet-Syndrom, Poland, Germany, 2022), directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, follows the theatre rehearsals of a group of five young Ukrainians processing their experiences of war in a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. The directorial duo will also be giving a public master class about their cinematic practice at goEast. The family portrait FRAGILE MEMORY (Ukraine, 2022) from director Igor Ivankov takes us back into the filmic past of his grandfather Leonid Burlaka, who worked as a cameraman at Odesa Film Studio. While Igor is busy discovering his grandfather’s oeuvre through a pile of film reels found in a garage, the elder man’s memory is increasingly fading due to dementia. The psychological Christmas grotesque THE UNCLE (Stric, Croatia, Serbia, 2022), directed by David Kapac and Andrija Mardešić, is set in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s. Miki Manojlović shines in the title role as a nasty uncle. Finally, the section features a true venerable cinema master in the person of Jerzy Skolimowski, with EO (IO, Poland, Italy, 2022), his compelling homage to Robert Bresson’s 1966 classic AU HASARD BALTHAZAR.  

Short film enthusiasts can look forward to a wild programme on the big screen too: the Anarcho Shorts. “Live, laugh, love” is this year’s motto for the annual collection of colourful, unconventional films. 

“Meet the Activists, illustrators_native” Exhibition, Rhine River Boat Trip with Poets and Thinkers on May Day and Party Trilogy 

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a new national consciousness and a decolonial discourse have arisen among the indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities living under the Russian Federation. This has been linked to new protest movements against the war and against systemic racism in Russian society. These developments will be the topic of a goEast panel discussion featuring Alexandra Garmazhapova, founder of the Free Buryatia Foundation, and author and activist Dankhaiaa Khovalyg. Further participants include Seseg Jigjitova and Rinchina Azheeva from the Republic of Buryatia, who founded the collective “illustrators_native” at the beginning of 2023. The project aims to create a supportive and inspiring community for diverse illustrators from indigenous populations in Russia and to present works by illustrators devoted to the depiction and rethinking of their native cultures and stories. A selection of these works – from graphic novels to textile art all the way to video installations – will be on display in the exhibition room of Murnau-Filmtheater during the festival week. 

For May 1st, goEast has rented a traditional Rhine cruise ship and is extending a warm invitation to embark on a boat trip featuring special festival guests. While the idyllic landscapes of the Rheingau pass by on the riverside, short readings and poetry performances will provide intellectual stimulation. Selected filmmakers will be reading from the works of their favourite authors, with translation. The Wiesbaden author Alexander Pfeiffer will moderate. Meeting point and time: 1 May at 13:30, departing from the mooring at Rheingaustraße 148, 65203 Wiesbaden-Biebrich. 

goEast fully intends to catch up on partying too, after a range of events had to be called off, mostly due to the pandemic, over the last three-and-a-half turbulent years. The fun kicks off with the goEast basement party room and DJ Janeck on 28 April at 23:00 in the new festival location at Altes Gericht. Estonian Funk Embassy will rock Kulturzentrum Schlachthof on Saturday, 29 April from 22:30. To go with the Hungarian-Estonian Space Age Animation film programme, the “Ambassadors of Funk”, aka Henrik Ehte and his partner Ingvar “Indo” Kassuk, have been assigned to Wiesbaden to put the audience in a trance with funk, soul, disco and jazz treasures from Estonian artists of the ’70s and ’80s. The final party on 2 May gets going at 23:00 at Altes Gericht, with a colourful mix of Balkan beats, klezmer melodies and modern electro rhythms. 


Members of the press can register here for accreditation for goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film. During the festival, accredited industry guests and members of the press will receive access to an online media library featuring the festival films. Accreditation is free of charge for members of the press who wish to report on the festival. 

goEast Press Conference on 19 April 2023 

The press conference will take place at Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne as a live, in-person event on the morning of Wednesday, 19 April, starting at 11:00. We kindly ask that you register in advance to attend the event. 

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 will be announced in April. 

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 and the Central and Eastern European Online Library GmbH / CEEOL. Primary media partners include 3sat, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.