17th Cottbus Festival of East European Cinema

Germany, November 6 - November 10 2007

The jury

Julian Petley (UK), Margarita Chapatte Lopez (Spain), Hrvoje Puksec (Croatia), Tristan Priimägi (Estonia), Bodo Schönfelder (Germany)

Awarded films

Now in its seventeenth year, the Cottbus Film Festival offers a uniquely comprehensive overview of film production from the whole of central and eastern Europe. Over 100 films from nearly 30 countries are shown in four different venues over five densely packed and highly stimulating days. More than half of these films are German or international premieres. Prizes worth over 55,000 Euros are awarded, and the festival is attended by more than 500 professional visitors, as well as by an enthusiastic local population eager to see films very different from the Hollywood products which now dominate the local multiplexes.

Cottbus is situated in the Lausnitz region of the Land Brandenburg, and is the region’s most important cultural event. The city lies about 100 km south-east of Berlin and 30 km from the Polish border. The area contains the smallest Slavic minority in Europe (the Sorbs or Wends), and Cottbus itself (which is also known as Chosebuz) is home to the largest bi-lingual community in Germany.

Geographically and culturally situated as it is, then, Cottbus is the ideal city for a festival showcasing the best new films from central and eastern Europe. The centrepiece of the festival is obviously the feature film competition (which this year contained ten films), but it also hosts a short film competition, a section devoted to ‘National Hits’ (popular successes from eastern Europe countries which nonetheless often find it difficult to achieve distribution outside their country of origin), a ‘Focus’ on the cinema of a particular country or region (this year the cinemas of the former Yugoslav republics and the neighbouring countries of the Adriatic coast), a children’s and young people’s programme, and a ‘Retrospective’ which, on this occasion, was devoted to films made in and about the Land Brandenburg since 1946. One of the oldest federal German states (it was founded in 1157), it has always been a point of intersection between different cultures and ethnic groups. Again, this makes it the perfect setting for a festival enabling eastern and western Europeans to meet and communicate through the medium of film. (Julian Petley)