Dreams of escape at CinEast film festival
Central and European film festival, CinEast, is back starting next week with around 90 films including fiction, documentaries and animation.
The festival starts with award-winning film, Hive, that tells the story of a Kosovan woman with a missing husband, who goes against convention to set up her own business selling honey and ajvar - a condiment made from aubergine and pepper.
"It’s an important movie, that speaks about the issue of women’s empowerment in a predominantly male society," said Hynek Dedecius, artistic director for the festival.
"It’s a very humane story, with amazing performances and a strong plot. The topic is universal, but at the same time interesting for a Luxembourgish audience to see just how different conditions, traditions and society can be some 2,000 kilometres from here in the Balkans," he said.
The film, which will be screened on the opening night of 7 October at Neimënster Culture Centre, and again on 9 October when the director, Blerta Basholli, who won three prizes at the Sundance Film Festival including the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, will take part in a panel entitled Quiet female rebellion.
Dreams of escape far wider than pandemic
The main theme of this year’s CinEast is Dreams of Escape, which provides a reflection on various forms of our hope for change, distraction and getaway, not only physically after months of lockdown, but also in our desire to escape from rigid lifestyles, by proposing alternatives for the future.
"It is true that when we were discussing ideas for the main theme this year we all felt exhausted from the long months of Covid restrictions, and we were all dreaming of an escape from this new reality," Dedecius said. "But the topic is much broader, and the rationale behind it was to combine the element of dreaming and imagination, very much linked to cinema, with the notions of new perspectives, alternative lifestyles and opportunities to start anew in maybe a better way. We wanted to stress the positive side, ways of improvement rather than resignation."
The festival comprises 55 feature films and 35 short films and will run from 7 to 24 October. Most films will be fiction, but the line up also includes documentaries and animations.
"There are many films reflecting the current issues faced by people like relationships, human and women’s rights, immigration, social and political problems, but also documentaries focused on specific subjects," said Dedecius, going on to add that there are also films addressing the topic of online pressure and social media bullying such as Sisterhood and #dogpoopgirl.
Selecting the films is a complicated process and the team must decide on their quality and how relevant they are to a Luxembourg audience, Dedecius explained.
"We tend to prioritise films about universal issues, films that bring questions that are also on people’s minds here, but also a new perspective to audiences so they can discover and learn something knew about these lesser-known parts of Europe," he said.
Focus on Slovenia
The focus at this year’s festival is on Slovenia, with six feature films, three short films and a concert by Slovenian band Vasko & the Uncles from the Dark, together with themed nights, a photography exhibition and a youth programme. The films range from a crazy comedy to a documentary about Slovenian nature, Dedecius said.
The festival’s films will be screened at city venues including Cinémathèque, Neimënster, Ciné Utopia and Kinepolis Kirchberg, and also outside the capital at the Ancien Cinema in Vianden, Ciné Starlight in Dudelange, KulturFabrik in Esch-sur-Alzette, and at the Achteinhalb Cinema in Saarbrücken.
They will also be available online through a dedicated VOD platform, to help compensate for reduced capacity at physical venues but also to give everyone the chance to watch the films at home.
Prize jury and debates
Prizes will be awarded by an international jury, which this year will be presided over by Romanian director and Golden Bear winner, Radu Jude. There will also be a critic’s award presented by an independent press jury, an audience award, and a new young talents award.
The international jury consists of film professionals such as directors, actors, producers and critics. There are more women on all the juries this year and jurors are of various age groups to bring different perspectives and maximise the objectivity of the verdict, Dedecius said.
CinEast complements its film line up with cinédebates – discussions held with directors and experts, a photography exhibition, two poster exhibitions, and special screenings for films co-produced by Luxembourg including the avant premier of Stefan Arsenijević’s award-winning As far as I can walk co-produced with Les Films Fauves. Concerts will also be held at Melusina and Rotondes and CinEast Pro hosts a platform for professionals from Luxembourg and central and eastern Europe to meet and foster collaborations.
The CinEast Film Festival first started in 2008, and in 2019 attracted some 11,200 people. You can find out more about this year’s agenda of films, art, music, photography, debates, and food at their website here.