Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests and participants!
I’m honoured and delighted to welcome you to the first edition of a new festival – Eurazja Film Festiwal. It’s a unique occasion to get to know cinematography that is hardly ever present in Polish cinemas. It’s a shame because we are fans of these films and as such we want to fill this gap with our festival. Cinema of the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Central Asia is exceptional: brave, unconventional, searching for new ways of narration and artistic expression, and most importantly, bringing up problems the West is not aware of or doesn’t remember about. During our festival you’ll be able to watch 36 films from distant countries like Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine and Syria, among others. Many of them are co-productions with European countries, like Denmark, France, Greece, Spain, or Italy, making them titles of international scale. It’s important for us to popularise knowledge about this cinematography’s attainment and underline its role in modern culture. We want to show you films that will be moving, emotional, provoking discussions, and presenting a world many of us didn’t know about, thus opening new horizons and challenging stereotypes.
We’re convinced that the chosen films will meet with positive reactions and gain approval from Warsaw viewers. To make it happen we’ve carefully selected films in our repertoire and did everything to make them as diverse in terms of genres and subject matters as possible. It’s not easy to present several dozens of countries in 11 days, but cinema is an irreplaceable tool to connect people and bring cultures closer together. By way of image and sound it tells stories, shows character’s emotions, and presents problems unique to different cultures as well as a wider scope of society.
To be able to show you the most valuable productions of recent years we’ve decided to create an Oscar section comprising films that were official submissions to the most important film award. These will be “Costa Brava, Lebanon”, “Two Lions to Venice”, “The Happiest Man in the World”, “The Crying Steppe”, “The Stranger”, “Hive”, “Yellow Cat”, and “Veins of the World”. We believe our selection will be a positive surprise and an enjoyable time spent at the cinema. I hope screenings during the first edition of Eurazja will be the beginning of a new tradition and the festival itself will become a staple in the calendar of cultural events of Warsaw viewers. Thanks to that it will be able expand and become more important.
As the festival director I would like to thank the filmmakers for presenting their works, the Polish Film Institute for trusting and supporting us, our partners and media patrons for helping us organise and promote the event and enabling us to bring the best films of recent years to Poland. I also thank all the viewers that will be present at our screenings. We’ve made Eurazja for you and I hope that this unique festival will be bring you unforgettable experience and the chosen titles will meet your expectations and will linger in your memory for a long time. I would also like to acknowledge the engagement and support of all the people that have made this festival possible: Artur who’s responsible for the programme, employees, volunteers, media, and all other people and institutions supporting us in any way. I warmly invite you to attend festival screenings and wish you fantastic and unforgettable experience.
See you at the cinema!
Director of Eurazja Film Festiwal
Someone once said that cinema is like the cosmos – it keeps expanding and we regularly discover new planets. Eurazja Film Festiwal will let us discover a few such planets: cinema of the Balkans, the Middle East, and the states that gained independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Films from these parts of the world reflect what happens in these geographical regions. They help us understand what challenges the societies face and take a look at their everyday life and ways of living. And despite all the differences, the Polish people will find their problems relatable.
Filmmakers make their artistic statements during important social changes. Tradition clashes with modernity, old structures give way to openness, and patriarchy weakens under the influence of emancipation movements. It’s brilliantly reflected in our programme in which you can find a Turkish gay comedy drama (“RSVP”) and feminist stories: about discovering femininity among fabulous landscapes of Croatia (“Murina”), and about women’s fight for self-determination in Jordan (“Daughters of Abdul-Rahman”).
I strongly believe that these films will help us realise that our convictions about these parts of the world are often false. Stereotypes are very much alive, but we will try to challenge them. What are those stereotypes? For example, the one that filmmakers censor themselves when it comes to criticising their government or religion. The powerful drama “Burning Days” is an unrelenting protest against Erdoğan’s rule in Turkey which is based on dividing the society, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia. The Azerbaijani “Cold as Marble” and Turkish “Pure White” show what people determined to prove their submission to God’s will are capable of. “Dirty, Difficult, Dangerous” is a voice against the conviction that Pan-Arabism is still viable; this original film shows repressions brought upon Syrian immigrants in Lebanon.
Our festival will give a chance to get to know the history of many different countries. “The Crying Steppe” brings back the forgotten episode of Kazakh famine. Authors of “Metronome” go back in time to communist Romania to show how the system restrains individual freedom. “Hanging Gardens” shows what life in Iraq looks like after years of tormenting war.
Eurazja will also offer titles that use their original form to tell stories. Fabulously colourful “Mountain Onion” with child actors lets us discover incredible Kazakh landscapes. “ILLYRICVM” proves that you can use humour and unusual costume to talk about the ancient Balkan history. “Two Lions to Venice” remind us how cleverly you can combine fiction with reality, while “All Eyes Off Me” – that cinema hasn’t said everything about sexuality yet.
We haven’t forgotten about connections between Poland and geographical regions we focus on. We will present the Polish-Turkish co-production “Anatolian Leopard” that was made in the Poznań zoo, and “Soul of Nowhere”, a meditation film by Gamid Ibadullayev based in Poland since 2005.
You’re welcome to join us in this incredible journey!
Artistic Director of Eurazja Film Festiwal