email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest


The creation of the Belarusian Independent Film Academy announced at Berlin


- BERLINALE 2023: The academy, which has secured support from various European institutions, has been founded by filmmakers opposing the Lukashenko regime, and aims to unite and support them

The creation of the Belarusian Independent Film Academy announced at Berlin
A moment during the presentation (© Belarusian Independent Film Academy/Dmitry Brushko)

The newly founded Belarusian Independent Film Academy (BIFA) is already operational and has presented ten of its works in progress during a special event at the Berlinale’s European Film Market.

The founding members – producer and director Voliya Chajkouskaya, directors Darya Zhuk, Andrei Kutsila and Aliaksei Paluyan, film critic Irena Kaciałović, and programmer Igor Soukmanov – were all present to introduce their project. Their goals are simple, yet unattainable in Lukashenko-governed Belarus: as stated in their press release and during the in-person presentation at the Gropius Bau, they aim to unite independent Belarusian filmmakers and make sure their voices are heard in the global industry, to help their projects secure international funds, to lobby their interests on the international stage, to aid educational efforts for up-and-coming Belarusian talents, as well as to fight censorship and related restrictions, and to defend artistic freedom and the right to express opinions about the world through the field of cinema. It goes without saying that the members of BIFA will not have or be seeking any grants from their native country.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

The group has already garnered support not just from the EFM and the Berlinale, whose executive director, Mariette Rissenbeek, was present and gave a short speech, but also from other institutional allies. European Film Academy CEO Matthijs Wouter Knol, German Films managing director Simone Baumann and German Minster of Culture Claudia Roth all spoke as well. In what the latter called “a political speech”, she pointed out, among other things, that the most popular lie told about art is that it flourishes under oppression. On the other hand, Wouter Knol announced that the BIFA was invited to join the European Film Academy’s newly founded association of national film academies, as its first member. Baumann, meanwhile, offered support and help in finding international partners.

The speeches were followed by a presentation of ten upcoming fiction and documentary projects by independent Belarusian filmmakers, whose names are already well known in the industry. Some of them have already found partners in Poland, Germany, Uzbekistan, France, Estonia, the USA and Georgia. The fiction projects are: Until This Summer by Darya Zhuk, Waiting for Bernau by Aliaksei Paluyan, 8 Months 3 Years by Mara Makovich, The Fourth Way by Sasha Kulak, Yurki by Vlada Senkova and Sovreman by Nikita Lavretski. The documentary projects are as follows: Letters by Andrei Kutsila, The Wife of… by Voliya Chajkouskaya, I Made a Mistake Coming Here by Ksenia Halubovich and lex Rodin’s Art Message by Helen Yasinkskaya.

As Voliya Chajkouskaya told Cineuropa, BIFA is also in talks with European festivals such as Karlovy Vary and DOK Leipzig, among others, to organise “maybe a showcase of Belarusian projects together. This is what we need to really highlight our industry and introduce us as one, unified voice.” She added that they are “also in talks with Baltic Event and Tallinn Black Nights, plus the Northern Lights Film Festival, who are all our friends”. Whatever happens, the BIFA will certainly not stand alone.

More details are available on the BIFA website.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

See also

Privacy Policy