Film festivals discuss politics and civic values at Cottbus
- The second part of the debate on ‘Film festivals between politics and civic values’ took place last week at Cottbus, after kicking off at Odesa
During the 28th FilmFestival Cottbus, Eastern European film festival representatives and filmmakers and journalists from both the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia met at the network meeting entitled ‘Film festivals between politics and civic values’ to exchange views on the situation in their respective countries.
Film festival meetings at the FFC are intended as social spaces within their respective countries, allowing them to operate as an exchange platform in the context of intercultural and international dialogue between representatives from countries that are reluctant to talk on a political level.
However, festivals face a range of economic and political challenges. For instance, the Belarusian Culture Ministry’s screening ban imposed on two films in national competition at the renowned Minsk International Film Festival, Listapad (in Belarus) turned into a political issue. Over the course of the past year, the Azerbaijan government has put political pressure on film festivals intending to show the Iranian-Armenian film Yeva to such effect that the Istanbul Governor's Office prohibited the screening. The argument was that the film by the Iranian-born director Anahid Abad, which Armenia submitted for the 2018 Academy Awards, gave rise to the impression that Nagorno-Karabakh was an Armenian territory. The incident caused a stir in Turkey, but, as was pointed out during the network meeting, was hardly an exception, given that Azerbaijan has previously exerted undue political pressure on various governments, abusing diplomatic channels.
The discussion partners, comprising representatives of the Golden Apricot International Film Festival (Yerevan, Armenia), the Tbilisi International Film Festival (Georgia), the International Documentary Film Festival CRONOGRAF (Chisinau, Moldova), the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer (Russia), the Odesa International Film Festival, where the network had a meeting in June, as well as film journalists and filmmakers from all Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine) and Russia, emphasised the role of mutual exchange and solidarity in the region’s film scene.
Film journalism often initiates social debate, which is why the network meeting was accompanied by a workshop for young film journalists from these countries, in the context of which the participants discussed the socio-analytic function of films, such as Ivan I. Tverdovskiy’s Jumpman [+see also:
interview: Ivan I Tverdovsky
film profile], which criticises the abuse of official channels for corrupt private purposes, Yulia Shatun's documentary Tomorrow (Belarus) about the situation of unemployed older people in the provinces, and Grigol Abashidze's Neighbours (Georgia) about the social consequences of insubordinate gentrification.
The workshop also highlighted the crisis of film criticism around the world. By submitting to economic constraints, film reviews sometimes lack the ability to engage in social analysis as they can often deteriorate into becoming nothing more than marketing devices.
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