Winners at Festival of Central and Eastern European Film: Main Award for SILENCE OF REASON // Best Director for STEPNE

    The 24th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film came to a festive conclusion on Tuesday evening. The awards ceremony at Caligari FilmBühne formed the grand finale for an emotional and eventful festival week at goEast. After seven days full of cinematic art, workshops, numerous discussions, lectures, film talks and exhibitions, featuring screenings of 90 films and with more than 200 guests from the international film industry present in Wiesbaden, the winning films of the Competition, the East-West Talent Lab and the RheinMain Short Film Competition were honoured and presented with prizes valued at a total of 28,000 euros.

    The Awards

    SILENCE OF REASON (MKD/BIH, 2023), by director and producer Kumjana Novakova, won the Golden Lily, endowed with 10,000 euros in prize money, for the 24th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film in Wiesbaden. The forensic video essay deals with the subject of rape as a weapon of war. The International Jury, chaired by Nicoletta Romeo, explained its selection with the following statement: "The Golden Lily for Best Film goes to SILENCE OF REASON for the original and radical form in which this experimental essay film manages to convey the horror of the systematic mass rapes in Bosnia in the 1990s, through the written minutes and the oral recordings extracted from trial testimonies of survivors and the raw footage deteriorated by time. The repeated mass crimes committed amidst everyone's silence and indifference become a universal document of every war crime perpetrated everywhere against women, managing to break the silence and taboos, thus becoming a milestone for everlasting memory."

    Director Maryna Vroda won the Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director (endowed with 7,500 euros) with STEPNE (UKR/DEU/POL/SVK, 2023). The pastoral social drama revolves around the experiences of Anatoly, who returns to the village of his childhood to care for his aging mother. In the words of the Jury: "What starts as a simple family story of a few days in the life of a vulnerable and lonely man becomes an elegiac tale of an isolated place in the post-Soviet Ukrainian countryside, of past generations and their history, and a requiem to a vanishing world through a choral perspective. Vroda's powerful cinematic debut film manages to portray the life of a disappearing, melancholic universe, its pain and lost hopes, with tenderness, authenticity and a mature gaze."

    Special Mention went to the intimate family documentary 1489 (ARM, 2023) by director Shoghakat Vardanyan. The Jury praised the film in the following statement: "Made by an artist with no filmmaking experience who nonetheless displays an undeniable, natural talent and impeccable instinct, this film is a visceral, unembellished punch to the gut. An incredibly courageous and intimate account of the pain inflicted by the Nagorno-Karabakh war on an Armenian family. Though their wounds will never completely heal, their portrayal also offers hope and catharsis to multitudes of people suffering such tragedies around the world."

    3sat Feature Film Broadcast Selection: BAURYNA SALU 

    goEast media partner 3sat, which has awarded one feature film from the Competition section with a television broadcast package every year since the festival's inception, selected BAURYNA SALU (KAZ, 2023) for the honour in 2024, with the statement: "Through its aching and touching examination of the nomadic Kazakh tradition of the same name, the quiet, but vibrant feature-length debut 'Bauryna Salu' by Ashkat Kuchinchirekov offers authentic insights into an unknown world and its life and work practices. Speckled with tender and light-hearted coming-of-age moments, the drama, which premiered in San Sebastian and which is carried by its captivating young lead Yersultan Yerman, advances to the raw, emotional core of its deliberately reduced conflicts. While a hand camera sensitized for the fugitive moments of everyday life both epitomizes and makes present the naturalistic approach of the mise-en-scène, the moody colours of the film – emphasizing earthy comfort and ice-blue solitude – transcend the fictional and let intimately shimmer through the personal childhood memory of a broken soul silently awaiting answers."

    The film is slated to celebrate its television premiere on 3sat during the 2025 edition of goEast. In 2023, the honour went to the Latvian film JANUARY (LVA/LTU/POL, 2022), directed by Viesturs Kairišs, which was broadcast on 27 April.

    A PICTURE TO REMEMBER (UKR/FRA/DEU, 2023), directed by Olga Chernykh, was honoured with the CEEOL Award for Best Documentary Film – the award, now in its third edition, is sponsored by the Central and Eastern European Online Library and endowed with 4,000 euros in prize money. The essay-like generational portrait takes viewers back on a journey to the Donetsk of the past. In the jury's words: "An essayistic dream-like account of a family's long journey through the war with the use of poetic introspection which conveys the complexities of a country at war, balancing between past and present and confronting private archives with public, collective memory. Through the experiences of three generations of women the film presents the human experience of war with tenderness through a mature and poetic use of found footage and a brilliant filmmaking craft."

    A Special Mention went to KIX (HUN, 2023), directed by Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész. The coming-of-age story traces the path of young protagonist Sanyi Marku. As the jury commented: "The long-term observation documentary makes us follow the cinematic odyssey of Sanyi and his family, from the careless freedom of childhood – in wild and anarchic sequences, full of love and delicacy towards its young protagonists – to the conformity and grimness of adulthood. Through a personal and political lens, we witness a rarely seen portrait of an impoverished working-class family in modern day Budapest, where social institutions are absent or not efficient and young adults seem to be deprived of hope, their lives following a predictable downward spiral of events, triggered by a lack of a welfare system which provides no hope for a better future."

    In the documentary film category, the FIPRESCI jury, composed of Bojidar Manov, Katrin Hillgruber and Catalin Olaru, also chose to honour KIX (HUN, 2023), from the directorial duo of Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész. As the jury members shared in their statement: "Ten years ago, a chalk line on the asphalt of Budapest led a film student to the unsupervised boys Sanyi and Viktor. The documentation of their actions between pranks and street art has become a testimony to social sensitivity and anarchic joie de vivre and thus a cinematic stroke of luck. The FIPRESCI Award goes to Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész for their documentary 'KIX'."

    The FIPRESCI International Film Critic's Award in the category of fiction feature went to PLAGUE (RU/SA, 2024), directed by Dmitrii Davydov. In the jury's words: "For its impeccable framing, the uncompromising view of violence as personal incentive in a male dominated society, and the inventive way in which it applies western movie dynamics to a rural landscape never before associated with this particular genre the FIPRESCI Award for Best Fiction Film goes to PLAGUE."

    The RheinMain Short Film Award, sponsored by Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain and endowed with 2,500 euros in prize money, went to QIRIM (CZE, 2023) by Kateryna Khramtsova. According to the jury's statement: "We award the RheinMain Short Film Award to a film that experiments with a variety of creative elements to express the very personal situation of its main character. The film does not make it easy for us – it asks relevant questions to which there are no clear answers: how to behave in extreme situations, identity questions, the extent of courage, commitment and solidarity. Another quality of this film is its direct, immediate aesthetics, which draw us in, absorb us. We appreciate that the filmmaker conveys that such a story must be told, now and at any time."

    In the East-West Talent Lab, which was realised once again with the generous support of Renovabis and the Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds, the annual Project Market Pitch took place in front of a three-member jury. The jury awarded a Special Mention to the film project SACRED SONGS by Georgian producer Mariam Bitsadze, with the words: "We would like to give a special mention to a project which gives a unique insight in the lives of several women from one family in a male dominated world. Access to the world outside is given to them through their performances of sacred songs of their religion, which are normally sung by men. We would like to support the director's effort to open up their world to us."

    The Pitch-the-Doc Award, a non-cash prize package consisting of consulting services valued at 500 euros, went to the project ECHOES OF AVEY by Atanur Nabiyeva from Azerbaijan. In the jury's words: "While an ancient mountain is vanishing the director of this project is trying to capture her childhood memories and the collective memory of her community in a poetic way before it is permanently gone. We feel this project deserves to be developed further and assisted in its genuine quest for its subtle filmic language."

    THE AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER’S FAMILY PORTRAIT from producer Irina Gelashvilli was honoured with the Renovabis Research Grant (endowed with 3,500 euros). As the jury explained: "The jury decided to give the main award to an already awarded project which was founded by a government and taken away from the director. We would like to support his artistic revenge which seems to promise much more than what he started out with. We appreciated that he did not give up and the sense of humour behind the project."

    The EEFFN – Eastern European Film Festival Network, which is committed to increasing the visibility and impact of Eastern European cinema throughout Europe and counts goEast as a member festival, presented the "EEFFN Award" for the first time in 2024. The purpose of the award is to honour one film from Central and Eastern Europe annually that has distinguished itself through exceptional artistic merit, innovation and influence on the Eastern European film industry. This year, the festival showed the EFFN Award winning Latvian film JANUARY by director Viesturs Kairišs  (LVA/LTU/POL, 2022).

    The 24th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film took place in Wiesbaden, Germany, from 24 to 30 April. In addition to a multifaceted Competition section and intensive encounters in the cinema, this year's festival highlights included guest appearances by internationally celebrated filmmakers and representatives of film institutions. The Symposium, entitled "The 'Other' Queers: Cinematic Images from the Periphery of Europe", was met with a very high degree of enthusiastic participation and sold-out cinema screenings. With the supporting programme Cinema Archipelago, made possible with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, the festival explored new territory beyond the cinema for the third year in a row, including, among other things, a successful exhibition under the title POLITICAL TEXTILE and panel discussions addressing queer anti-war activism in Ukraine, among other topics. Finally, the festival also featured a special film series devoted to the film nations of Kosovo and Albania.

    Here is a full overview of all of this year's award winners:

    1. Golden Lily for Best Film

    SILENCE OF REASON (ŠUTNJA RAZUMA, MKD/BIHP, 2023), director/producer: Kumjana Novakova

    2. Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director

    STEPNE (UKR/LTU, 2022), director: Maryna Vroda 

    3. Special Mention 

    1489 (ARM, 2023), director: Shoghakat Vardanyan

    4. CEEOL Award for Best Documentary Film

    A PICTURE TO REMEMBER (FOTO NA PAMYAT, UKR/FRA/DEU, 2023), director: Olga Chernykh

    5. Special Mention of the International Jury

    KIX (HUN, 2023), directors: Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész 

    6. 3sat Broadcast Selection

    BAURYNA SALU (KAZ, 2023), director: Ashkat Kuchinchirekov  

    7. FIPRESCI International Film Critic's Award (fiction feature) 

    PLAGUE (CHUMA, RU/SA, 2024) director:  Dmitrii Davydov 

    8. FIPRESCI International Film Critic's Award (documentary film) 

    KIX (HUN, 2023), directors: Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész   

    9. RheinMain Short Film Award

    QIRIM (CZE, 2023), director: Kateryna Khramtsova 

    10. Pitch-the-Doc Award 

    ECHOES OF AVEY (AZE) director: Atanur Nabiyeva

    11. Renovabis Research Grant