The FilmFestival Cottbus was first held in 1991 in the immediate post-reunification era and is regarded as the most important festival of Eastern European Cinema worldwide. The host city of Cottbus is located 120 km southeast of Berlin and is a gateway to the east, only a few miles away from the border to Poland in the bilingual (German/Sorbian) Lausitz region in the state of Brandenburg.
Every year, filmmakers, producers and actors from Eastern and Central Europe meet in Cottbus. The film industry platform “connecting cottbus” plays an important role in bringing together filmmakers, producers and potential financiers. It even pushes some projects from the first idea to the actual film. FilmFestival Cottbus is a hallmark as a consumer and industry meeting alike.
With a representative overview of the current film production of the entire Central and Eastern European region, it has developed continuously into the leading festival for East European Cinema.
For the 2015 25th anniversary edition over 20,000 visitors from more than 40 nations gathered in Cottbus, including a large number of accredited members of the press and industry. According to leading industry magazine VARIETY (2007) Cottbus is “a must-attend global event” and was even listed among the “50 most important film festivals worldwide”. Former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, 2008 Patron of the festival, described Cottbus as “the second most important film festival in Germany”. He added: “A varied programme of lectures, exhibitions and concerts, workshops, seminars, panels and film talks makes the festival a unique forum for an identity-building dialogue between cultures.“
The FilmFestival Cottbus regularly dedicates sections to the two most cinematographically active countries of the East. On "Russkiy Den" (Russian day), notable Russian productions of the past year are shown. As a result of the longstanding and successful contacts with Russian filmmakers and journalists, the “Academy of Friends of German-Russian Film” was founded in 2009.
The "PolskieHoryzonty" (Polish horizons) on the other hand were created as a result of a cooperation with the largest Polish festival "NoweHoryzonty” which takes place in Wrocław. This part of the event also presents the latest productions from ZielonaGóra, with its lively alternative film scene. In the youth film section, the everyday life in Germany and neighbouring countries Poland and Czech Republic is a major subject. A tri-national panel of young people expertly nominates the best cinematic discovery.
All together, the FilmFestival Cottbus presents eighteen awards, which are endowed with a total value of over € 75,000. In addition to the award for “Best feature film”, a special prize for “Best director” as well as prices for outstanding acting are awarded. All of them are after the same ‘big win’ - the coveted prize sculpture “Lubina” (Sorbian: the winsome). Among the most popular festival attendees are certainly the Oscar-winners Istvan Szabo, Jiri Menzel, Allan Starski and Jan Sverak, directors such as Krzysztof Zanussi, Christian Mungiu, Andreas Dresen and Nana Djordjadze, writers like ChingizAitmatov and the actors Katarzyna Figura, OanaPellea, Jean-Marc Barr, Katja Flint, Rolf Hoppe, Arta Dobroshi and Anna Thalbach.