Eastern Neighbours Film Festival returns
by Mariana Hristova
- The gathering is back for its sixth edition, which will get under way on 5 November in The Hague
The Eastern Neighbours Film Festival (ENFF), which aims to popularise Eastern European cinema in the Netherlands, is returning after a year-long break. The event’s sixth edition will take place in The Hague, with screenings at Filmhuis Den Haag (5-12 November) and Het Nutshuis (13-15 November).
With a programme of 38 titles, this year’s gathering extends its territorial perimeter to include films from Georgia and Russia. It will kick off with the absurd tragicomedy Keep Smiling [+see also:
interview: Rusudan Chkonia
film profile] by Georgian filmmaker Rusudan Chkonia, which tells the story of desperate mothers trying to win a beauty contest. Two other films – the love triangle Blind Dates [+see also:
interview: Levan Koguashvili
film profile] by Levan Koguashvili, which also comes from Georgia, and Goodbye Mom, the emotional story of a family’s disintegration, by Russia's Svetlana Proskurina – zoom into the details of local everyday life while using more intimate approaches. Internationally acclaimed Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic’s most recent film, For Those Who Can Tell No Tales [+see also:
film profile], will also have its Dutch premiere at the festival, thus representing the female viewpoint in Eastern European cinema.
One of the key festival sections will be dedicated to the 25-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Aside from the metaphorical animation Rabbit à la Berlin by Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosołowski, which tells the story of the Berlin Wall in an anecdotal way, the rest of the titles in the programme are documentaries that take a closer look at political life in Eastern Europe during the post-communist era: Romania's Where Are You Bucharest? by Vlad Petri follows the street protests before the referendum held in a bid to oust the president in 2011; Ukraine_Voices by Dmytro Tiazhlov gathers opinions from different people on how to build a democratic society in Ukraine; and Free Smetana by Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák investigates the case of a Czech bus driver who went to jail for defacing pre-election posters. A true historical input will be contributed by the documentary 1989 by Danish director Anders Østergaard, which features a great deal of archive footage. The programme will wrap up with a debate between journalists, philosophers and filmmakers, entitled “Is Power Deaf to Us?”
The festival selection also pays particular attention to upcoming filmmakers who have not yet had the chance to make feature films but who have already demonstrated promising skills. The New Talents section will show 11 shorts that have already made a splash abroad. Among them is the satirical Balcony by Kosovan filmmaker Lendita Zeqiraj (featured in the Venice Film Festival’s Official Selection) as well as the utopian animation Rabbitland by Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr, from Serbia and Montenegro (winner of the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlinale in 2013).
A programme of seven Croatian films marks the welcoming of the country into the EU: the most highly acclaimed among them include the close-up portrait of a documentary, Family Meals by Dana Budisavljević (Audience Award at ZagrebDox); the mysterious Autofocus by Boris Poljak (Best Documentary at the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival); and the hilarious Cowboys [+see also:
film profile] by Tomislav Mršić (which Croatia has put forward for next year's Oscars).
Finally, the ENFF will also celebrate 100 years of Turkish cinema with Melisa Önel’s debut, Seaburners (Berlinale Forum 2014), and Once Upon a Time by Kazim Öz (Special Prize at the Istanbul Film Festival 2014).
The classic film in the programme will be Želimir Žilnik’s Early Works (winner of the Golden Bear in 1969), one of the most important titles in Yugoslavian cinematography. It is part of the ENFF’s Forbidden Film sidebar, which presents movies that were either banned or shelved, in an effort to provide a better insight into Eastern European film history.