A View of the Wiesbaden Festival

in 4th goEast Film Festival

by Ivan Karl

The Festival of Eastern European film in Wiesbaden justifies its existence each year more than the one before and on its final day, for the fourth time, it became more than obvious. I say justify for more than one reason. First of all a festival with non-commercial content (topics) immediately excludes glamour ,big stars and all those whose intention it is to be seen and noticed, but not to truly enjoy and discuss the art of motion pictures. This alone deserves compliments and needs to be supported verbally. Secondly, despite having a larger rival in the same part of the country (Cottbus), the small but choice team from Wiesbaden should be even more respected and acknowledged.

And what is the program of the film festival in Wiesbaden? For a wide audience, especially the domestic one, the festival offers something different, a variety of directors, different topics and most important various film cultures. The Go East Festival concentrates on the so-called eastern block, whose countries, each in their own way, tend to achieve western-European values and standards. The main program is not restricted to fiction, it also includes experimental and documentaries. This could be objected to, but it should be remembered that most countries of eastern Europe have a modest production of feature films, and therefore most young, but even experienced directors, in order to maintain creative continuity, reach out to cheaper andt herefore easily produced documentaries. The artistic director of the festival Svetlana Sokorova recognised this and found a satisfying balance choosing 16 films from Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Hungary, Uzbekistan and Russia which, through their subjects, gave us a more or less clear picture of their societies and individuals. The sidebar program was versatile in several areas. Starting with the traditional symposium on “film trends in future members of EU” discussed by eminent experts, it was followed by a well prepared series of student films, and a ‘best of’ collection of the most successful Eastern European movies from other festivals.

And now something about the films presented and their directors. The organizer made an effort and succeeded in getting either the director or the producer to present their films, which is a true treasure for festivals such as Wiesbaden, because it allows communication between the audience and the guests and an exchange of experiences and ideas. The communication and social bonding took place from morning till dusk. Starting the day with student movies, shown throughout the whole day and evenings, presenting movies from the main program to late evenings and extremely pleasant conversations with the directors in the relaxed atmosphere of the festival press center in Castle Clementine. The response of the audience was more than satisfying, so that both of the festival cinemas were almost full the whole time, and the total number of visitors outdid last years total of 6.000. The following movies got the most attention from the audience: Koktebel (Russia 2003, directed by Boris Chlebnikov and Aleksej Popogrebskij), Dealer (Hungary 2004, directed by Benedek Fliegauf), The Professional (Serbia 2003, directed by Dusan Kovacevic), The Last Train (Russia 2003, directed by Aleksej German), Tomorrow’s Weather (Poland 2003, directed by Jerzy Stuhr). The awards of the official jury and the FIPRESCI jury did not neglect the previously mentioned movies, on the contrary, their decisions mostly seconded the public’s taste, which only confirms the high standards and artistic criteria of those who spent the last seven days in Wiesbaden.

At the moment this festival represents a point of encounter of east and west, one Europe with the other, and maybe there will come a time in the near future when all this year’s participants will find their place in the larger united European family.