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Lucía de la Torre • Festival programmer, Calvert Journal Film Festival

“Our main goal is to give a platform to independent filmmakers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia”

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- We took the opportunity to speak to the programmer of the Calvert Journal Film Festival about this year’s line-up, the gathering's side initiatives and its mission

Lucía de la Torre • Festival programmer, Calvert Journal Film Festival

The second edition of the Calvert Journal Film Festival will unspool from 18-31 October 2021. We talked with programmer Lucía de la Torre about this year’s line-up, the festival’s side initiatives and its mission.

Cineuropa: The Calvert Journal is an established international publication that covers, among other topics, culture and creativity from the New East. How did the idea to create a dedicated film festival come about? What’s your main mission?
Lucía de la Torre:
The idea for the Calvert Journal Film Festival first came about after we hosted a few online film screenings at the start of lockdown in 2020. All of these proved to be very successful: we realised that we had a platform to showcase films from a region that was usually under-represented in mainstream programmes. We decided to launch the inaugural edition of the festival in 2020, which featured seven films, screened over the course of a week. From there, we decided to expand, and launched an even bigger festival in 2021.

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Our main goal is to give a platform to independent filmmakers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Films from these regions often suffer from a lack of available funding, lack of coverage, and shorter theatrical runs. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse. The festival will give emerging filmmakers from the region a platform to reach The Calvert Journal’s global audience, while introducing viewers to films that wouldn’t otherwise be available on mainstream billboards or streaming platforms.

Could you talk through this year’s programme and its main sections? What are the world-premieres?
The festival will screen 35 films across seven categories: documentary feature, animation film, fiction feature, student film, experimental film, short film, and special screenings. Among that selection, we have seven world premieres, including Routes, a feature documentary following migrants as travel across the Balkans, Ok Good, a musical documentary on life in remote rural Russia, All the Dreams We Dream, an animated short on the 1931 famine in Kazakhstan, and The Moon, an experimental film based on an Udmurtian folk tale.

We’re also featuring award-winning black-and-white period drama Nova Lituania [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Karolis Kaupinis
film profile
]
, animated Oscar submission My Favourite War, and Rhythms of Lost Time, an ethnographic film hailing from Tajikistan. Also on offer are Warsaw: A City Divided, a documentary on Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto in the 40s, award-winning Romanian teenage drama Otto the Barbarian [+see also:
film review
interview: Ruxandra Ghiţescu
film profile
]
, and Cosmonaut, the animated tale of a retired Soviet astronaut.

What type of side events did you organise?
Alongside our screenings, we’re running a series of talks on The Calvert Journal’s Instagram page to spark new conversations about the region’s challenges, opportunities, and contemporary identity. They include a conversation with Lithuanian filmmaker, activist, and jury member Romas Zabarauskas on cinema as a tool of queer activism, a discussion with Polish-British filmmaker Zula Rabikowska on Eastern European cinema and culture in the UK post-Brexit, and a panel with jury members on cinema from Eastern Europe and Central Asia on the world screen.

How can we watch the films? Will they be available worldwide?
The screenings will take place on the festival’s Eventive platform. With the exception of a few geo-blocking restrictions, the films are available worldwide. You can purchase tickets for individual films (£2) here, or a category pass (£6) or festival pass (£30) here.

Who are your main partners?
Our main partners are Cineuropa, Little White Lies, the European Cultural Foundation, Film Ireland, Mediacritica, Eye for Film, East Journal, Kino Raksti, Dirty Movies, Steppe, Belgrade’s Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Scena9, Diez, Cinema Femme, and University of Pittsburgh’s Centre for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

What prizes are at stake? Who will be the jurors of this year’s edition?
In each category, films will be competing for the Best Film prize (with the exception of our out-of-competition Special Screenings section). The jurors of this year’s edition include Kazakh filmmaker Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Bosnian actress and educator Selma Alispahić, Lithuanian filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas, Kosovan filmmaker Norika Sefa, Ukrainian producer Natalia Libet, Czech anthropologist and documentarian Pavel Borecký, New Zealand film critic and curator Carmen Gray, Latvian programmer Zane Balčus, and Scottish film critic and journalist Amber Wilkinson.

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