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Full Programme of FilmFestival Cottbus

More than 100 films from 23 countries for the Festival of East European Cinema, which is being held from November 14 to 18.

1. Feature Film and Short Film Competitions – diverse and subtle

Ten films from eight countries were nominated for the Feature Film Competition, of which nine will be having their international or German premiere in Cottbus. Bulgaria and Romania are particularly strongly represented here with two films each - which can be regarded as the undisputed proof for the new departures on the southeastern fringe of Europe. The Romanian cinema maintains its role here as the „Wunderkind" of the international film scene. It shows how one can recount history in a calm, almost casual manner without bothering with cliches. The multiple award-winner 12:08 East of Bucharest by the newcomer Corneliu Porumboiu analyses the events of the 1989 revolution in the provinces with deliberately reduced means in the form of a chatshow parody. The proximity to the Romanian tradition of absurd theatre is also unmistakeable in Radu Munteanu's The Paper will be blue, which transposes the same historical events full of bitter comedy in the entanglements of a "man on the street".

There seems to be a similar approach by the Bulgarian films who, however, neither shy away from making detours nor melodramatic gestures in combination of several stories. In Christmas Tree Upside Down by Ivan Cherlekov and Vassil Zhivkov, a multi-faceted poetic picture of contemporary Bulgarian society is composed in six episodes. MONKEYS IN WINTER by Milena Andonova, moreover, succeeds through the combination of three time levels in recounting the story of women in the Bulgaria over the past 50 years and, simultaneously, referring to universal problems.

The Polish film ODE TO JOY by Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa and Maciej Migas also uses a narration in episodes as a stylistic means - in a very fresh and open way - to portray complex, social processes. Through its very direct and almost documentaristic way of observing three young Poles as they decide whether to "go or stay", the film formulates one of the major questions which has been occupying the East European cinema this year - and answers it in a very disillusioned way. Migration and its consequences are also addressed in TOMORROW MORNING by the Serbian director Oleg Novković, who is also ruthless in his portrait of a generation.

While the last-mentioned films consistently refuse to have a fully developed narration and are more in the realms of an aesthetic coming from video, the Russian film FRANZ AND POLINA initially seems to be a conventional love story in a classic war film. However, those fractures which finally distinguish a good film reveal themselves in the way "good" and "evil" as the main elements of this genre are being constantly mixed and can finally no longer be determined, in the subtle narration of hints, an opulent soundtrack and - not least of all - in the dramaturgically appropriate use of colour.

The clash of cultures is presented by another two films as love stories: THE INDIAN AND THE NURSE by the Czech director Dan Wlodarczyk describes with a light hand and completely unsentimentally how the love of a young Czech and a Romany woman is destroyed by prejudices and social constraints. The Kirghiz Nurbek Egen recounts in THE WEDDING CHEST the Romeo and Juliet story of an emancipated Frenchwoman and a Dshigit bound to traditions with all of blaze of colour, sensousness and exoticism of a modern fairytale from 1001 Nights.

While the majority of the films selected for this Cottbus edition have brilliantly made the connection to the "big" European cinema in their use of forms and complexity, the Hungarian film radically refuses any kind of mainstream. The orgy of carnality TAXIDERMIA by HUKKLE director György Pálfi shows beyond the pain barrier the perversion of man during the last century.

The leading actresses Vessela Kasakova (Bulgaria) and Oana Pellea (Romania), the festival director Sitora Alieva (Russia), the producer Boris T. Matić (Croatia) and the director Didi Danquart (Germany) have been named as the member of the jury for the Feature Film Competition.

Twelve films from eight countries have been selected for the Short Film Competition. The new generation from Russia is particularly strongly represented with three works, while Poland, Georgia and Hungary are present with two films each. The short film (up to 30 minutes) practises here in the art of the atmospherically dense description of social conditions, creates metaphorical images and poetic parables and convinces through artistic and thematic diversity. The exceptional quality of this year's films is the fact that they address political subjects in an unconventional and exaggerated way, with their very own narrative structures and often in a very personal way, with such films as THE STORY OF A LITTLE SOLDIER by Alexander Kviria (Georgia/Russia), GRAFFITI by Vano Burduli (Georgia), X2 by Bartosz Paduch (Poland), AMONG THE MOUNTAINS by Balázs Krasznahorkai (Hungary) and STANDARD BASTARD by Milan Balog (Slovakia).

The programme director of Alpe Adria Trieste, Nicoletta Romeo (Italy), Juliette Jansen of the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the director Srdan Golubovic (Serbia) have been named as the members of the jury for the Short Film Competition.

2. New Cinema from Bulgaria and Romania – Images of New Departures

The film showcase of the next two EU accession countries presents a comprehensive survey of two largely unknown, but highly noteworthy cinematographies with a programme of 28 films from 1994 bis 2006. The Bulgarian programme „We and the Others“, curated by Christo Bakalski, picks out the question of identities and inter-ethnicity in a multiracial area on the edge of Europe as a central theme. It is the „post 1989 generation“ of directors who helped Bulgarian film production - most recently also boosted by a new film funding law – to a new upswing and have now found strong stories and artistic independence. The patronage has been taken by the well-known Bulgarian actor Itzhak Fintzi who can also be seen in the programme alongside his son Samuel Fintzi who is engaged at Berlin's Volksbühne.

The Romanian programme „Europe's other youth“, curated by Elvira Geppert, portrays the generation of directors, including Tudor Giurgiu and Cristi Puiu, who have caused a sensation at major international festivals since 2000. The majority of them still young themselves, they describe the condition of the young people in a country which keeps on returning to its past in the light of an uncertain future. The patronage has been taken by the jury member Oana Pellea.

Almost 40 filmmakers are expected to come from the focus countries, with some participating in the discussion at the now traditional Focus Talk on the Friday about the development of cinema in their countries.

The programme and presentation of the Focus has been realised thanks to substantial support from the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) as well as in cooperation with the two countries' National Film Centres in Sofia and Bucharest.

3. Sorbian Film Retrospective – Rarities and re-encounters

The opening of the FilmFestival Cottbus also marks the beginning for the programme on filmmaking by the Slavic minority living in the Lausitz region. It begins with Asta Nielsen as THE STRANGE BIRD (1911) in the Spreewald and will end with Katja Flint, who ends up in the work of the Cottbus-born Bernd Heiber at the very same place where she meets a BEYOND THE BALANCE. The fact that the customs and traditions of the Sorbians were often seen from an ethnographic, exoticising perspective is shown by the documentary films from the 1920s to 1960s. As with the first cinematic works by Sorbian amateur filmmakers from this period, these are seldomly shown film historical treasures. A large space in the retrospective is taken up by auteur films based on Sorabian source material, including such classics as STRUGA (1972) and Rublak – The Legend of a Surveyed Country (1983), both by Konrad Herrmann, as well as The Pain of Lusatia (1989) by Peter Rocha. In a clarity unusual for the GDR, these works had shown the scale of the destruction of a landscape and the Sorbian culture by the brown coal mining - and, to this day, they have lost neither their cinematic value nor their topicality. Naturally, there can't be a programme about Sorbian art without Krabat, the most well-known and complex of the Sorbian legendary heroes. The Cottbus programme offers the delightful possibility to make a direct comparison between the film versions of this legend by the renowned directors Celino Bleiweiß and Karel Zeman. The fact that not only Krabat set off into the big wide world is shown finally by the documentaries of the Film Studio Sorabia Bautzen/Budyšin, which follow the traces of Sorabian emigrants.

The patron of this retrospective, the well-known Sorbian author Jurij Koch, provided the literary draft for a number of films being shown in Cottbus and will appear in the accompanying programme with readings.

The film programme was made possible thanks to substantial financial support from the DEFA Foundation and in collaboration with the Sorabia Film Studio ans its director Dr. Toni Bruk.

Cottbus 2006 will again offer a number of Specials along with the Spectrum, National Hits and the Children's And Young People's Programme - the latter is also being translated into English for the first time for the international guests.

The complete programme can be found at .

4. Connecting Cottbus – European network

The goal of the film industry forum, which is being held at the FilmFestival Cottbus on November 16 and 17, is again to give all of the participating producers from East, West and Central Europe up-to-date information about film funding opportunities, co-production conditions in the individual countries as well as interesting insights into the current situation of the film landscapes of selected countries.

The focus this year is an overview of present developments in the new Bulgarian and Romanian cinema, information on funding possibilities from Eurimages and MEDIA as well as the opportunities for international co-productions with Germany. As a forum for film producers, financiers and television commissioning editors, Connecting Cottbus sees it as an important job to offer the filmmakers of the new EU states the chance to integrate themselves into existing networks and to use and create European platforms for the common development and realisation of co-productions. This year, in line with the festival's Focus, Bulgaria and Romania will therefore be at the centre of interest. Tudor Giurgiu, filmmaker and president of Romanian Television TVR, and Stefan Kitanov, director of Sofia International Film Festival and the Sofia Meetings, will be among the leading industry figures from the two EU candidate countries joining representatives of the German and international film and television industry such as Meinolf Zurhorst (ZDF/Arte) and Olaf Aichinger (Bavaria International) in roundtables and panels.

Once again, the presentation of selected projects during a pitching session will be one of forum's highlights. A jury of representatives from Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, RBB, MDR, MEDIA Antenne Berlin Brandenburg, Connecting Cottbus and Nipkow Programm selected 13 projects. Among the eight participating countries Bulgaria is particularly strongly represented with three projects, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia each with two projects. The Russian director Sergej Losnitsa, one of the most innovative and successful documentary filmmakers of recent years, will present his first feature film project with the German production company Ma.Ja.De. Several of the participants in the pitching forum will also be having films showing in the festival programme, including from the Romanian producer Ada Salomon and screenwriter Radu Jude, who was also a co-author of the screenplay for jury member Didi Danquart's latest film OFFSET which will be presented as a Special - a European network which can be consolidated by Connecting Cottbus .

With LOVE SICK by Tudor Giorgiu and MONKEYS IN WINTER by Milena Andonova two films pitched in Cottbus are now returning – after their successful international festival launch – to be shown in the festival programme. One of the forum's events will also follow the progress of other projects from eight years of Connecting Cottbus under the banner of „FOCUS CoCo“ .

The work of Connecting Cottbus is bearing fruit – and stays really exciting.

The complete programme can be found at

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