News about Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov being placed under house arrest and the ongoing imprisonment of the Ukrainian film maker Oleg Sentsov dominate the perception regarding the situation of film makers in several Eastern European countries. They illustrate that film makers continue to be under pressure in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia.
This is the context in which the FilmFestival Cottbus and the Odesa International Film Festival once again host a network meeting on 17 and 18 July in Odesa and in November in Cottbus; guests include film festivals, film makers and journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. At the same time, the civil society and political culture as well as the cultural and geopolitical conditions in and between these countries could hardly be more varied and contradictory.
The Eastern Partnership countries and Russia face very different challenges when it comes to dealing with civil society issues and the critical scrutiny of political culture. The network meetings “Film festivals between civil society values and politics” in Odesa and Cottbus provide an important platform for exchange in this regard. In Odesa this exchange will take place during a conference, film screenings and a workshop for journalists.
“The conference gives participating film festivals, film makers and journalists an opportunity for exchanging ideas regarding the various approaches to issues of civil society in their respective countries”, explains Bernd Buder, Programme Director of the FilmFestival Cottbus. The network participants focus on the topic of “Attempts at censorship and public pressure through populist players from the pre-political sphere” as well as on the market concentration of Russian distributors who make international films available exclusively in the Russian language. “The first instalment of the project that took place in 2017, likewise in Odesa and Cottbus, demonstrated the participants’ immense need for exchange on these topics. Especially questions regarding the practical approach to the highlighted problems and the desire for sustained mutual, trusting support were and are at the forefront of people’s minds”, adds Bernd Buder.
The network meeting will be accompanied by public film screenings after which the film makers will engage in a discussion with the audience. “The screenings and discussions of films help the filmmakers to become communicants of the civil society discourse, by publicly debating on the challenges and the unseen aspects”, says Julia Sinkevych, Director of the Odesa International Film Festival.
A workshop for young film critics from the participating countries who report on the conference and the films screened in its context by way of example will for the first time complement the programme. Julia Sinkevych emphasises: “It is important to promote independent film journalism in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia and to encourage the journalists to actively participate. The workshop enables them to create a transnational network and to engage into mutual intercommunication.”
The network meeting “Film festivals between civil society values and politics” will be continued during this year’s 28th FilmFestival Cottbus (6 to 11 November 2018). The project is organised by the FilmFestival Cottbus in cooperation with the Odesa International Film Festival (13 to 21 July 2018) and with support from the German Foreign Office.
Participating film festivals:
Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival, Minsk International Film Festival “Listapad”, Tbilisi International Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival CRONOGRAF, Russian Open (International) Documentary Film Festival “Artdocfest”, Odesa International Film Festival, FilmFestival Cottbus as well as a festival initiator from Azerbaijan