Greeting from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany © Bundesregierung, Steffen Kugler

Dear Friends of Eastern European Film,

Home Cinema is not a permanent solution. This spring, when lockdown made public cultural life grind to a halt for weeks, we once again realised how much it means to us to go to the cinema or attend a festival, to jointly experience motion picture art and to directly share this experience with others.

Accordingly, this year’s FilmFestival Cottbus is hotly anticipated. Filmmakers and film fans from around the globe will in early November once again meet in Lusatia, even though their numbers will be fewer than in previous years. They will be able to exchange their thoughts regarding new productions and make new contacts, even though they will have to keep a safe distance. And those who cannot take part on site will be able to follow the programme on their screens at home. I think this hybrid form of presentation, of classic film festival combined with additional digital provisions, is here to stay, independent of Covid-19.

The films shown here portray a diverse panorama of vastly different countries in Eastern and Central Europe, from the Czech Republic to Russia, from Estonia to Bulgaria. They provide deep insights into societies about which some of us here know little more than what is reported in the daily news even 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Those who let themselves be drawn in by this festival’s films will see the world through the eyes of others, will empathise and emerge with a better understanding.

I am certain: only this broadened view can help us reduce prejudice and jointly stand against those who these days once again pursue nationalism, marginalisation, and isolation. Good films are a means of communication. For this reason, too, we should continue to support filmmakers who during the pandemic have come to face an existential crisis. Arthouse cinemas and festivals in particular continue to need solidarity from us all.

Europe grows closer during the film festival in Cottbus, also and especially in this peculiar year when borders had to be temporarily closed. Some 200 films lead us straight to our eastern neighbours, into our joint European stories. I wish all viewers exciting cinematic moments. And I ask all guests: Stay safe, look out for each other!

Frank-Walter Steinmeier 
President of the Federal Republic of Germany

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