- In Retrospect
Reprint free of charge
23 March 2018, Vienna
Already 162 films are in the programme for this year’s sixth edition of LET’S CEE, which will show productions from Central and Eastern Europe between the 13th and the 22nd of April in Vienna and meanwhile also in Graz, Salzburg and Villach. There will be 50 Austrian premieres in the four main competitions alone. What emerges is, once again, a festival of records.
Six years ago, 32 films were shown in two Viennese cinemas and just as many guests were invited, without any support by the public authorities.
This year, from the 13th to the 22nd of April 2018, feature films, documentaries and short films from Central and Eastern Europe, including the Caucasus region and Turkey, as well as – a premiere, again – a selection of exceptional VR productions from all over the world will be presented in the course of the now sixth LET’S CEE Film Festival in eleven cinemas in Vienna, Graz, Villach and for the first time, in Salzburg as well.
The programme features 162 productions already; the number of invited guests from abroad who take part in the film or industry programme will be on a similar scale. With the exception of works shown at retrospectives and similar series, the festival will again almost exclusively feature Austrian premieres. Also, with the number of screenings being 241, respectively even around 400 in total (including VR films), new records will be chalked up. It is only in regard to subsidies that there has been little change.
The most important responsible funding institutions, namely the culture department of the City of Vienna and the film department of the Federal Chancellery, have shown less and less support for Austria’s most successful film festival for years now compared to any other relevant local festival, without any comprehensible reasoning. Moreover, there have been unfounded, radical reductions of the already minimal subsidies.
In spite of the decreasing support, the programme remains unimpaired: Among other prominent guests, the grand dame of Hungarian cinema, multiple-award-winning, 86-year-old legendary director Márta Mészáros will be attending the festival. Furthermore, Yariv Lerner, who runs Bulgarian Nu Boyana Film Studios and who has recently celebrated international success with The Hitman’s Bodyguard (starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman), will fly in from Sofia, in addition to acting luminaries such as Czech Karel Roden who is also well-known from various international productions (such as Blade II, The Bourne Supremacy, and the BBC hit series McMafia), Balkan star Leon Lučev, Jordan-based Saba Mubarak who is famous in the Arabic region, and a number of other big names from the local film industry, such as Josef Hader, Stefan Ruzowitzky and Ruth Beckermann who will attend LET’S CEE 2018 and answer questions from the audience. Two very special guests will travel from New York to Vienna – actress, director and feminist Stoya (Jessica Stoyadinovich), who was named brightest porn star in the world by the German feuilleton and who has addressed the #MeToo debate long before it was trending. And of course, the organisers hope for the number of festival visitors to increase significantly – last time, there were already 16.100 attendees. This year, the number of festival days was raised from seven to ten.
Alone within the four competitions which include numerous internationally acclaimed films, there will be 50 Austrian premieres in total. As always, all films will be shown in their original language version with English or German subtitles; the only exception: the thrilling Russian space epos Spacewalker which will be presented in the German dubbed version. Moreover, for two Austrian films, The Migrumpies and Mademoiselle Paris, the option of audio description will be provided.
The festival will start off with the Estonian/Polish/Dutch co-production November by Rainer Sarnet, a seemingly bizarre film adaptation that is located between “a Grimm’s fairy tale, Eastern European folklore and a fever dream” (Variety) and that was recently awarded with the Best Camera Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for its sensational black and white images.
These further eleven exciting Austrian premieres will also be presented within the Feature Film Competition: Birds Are Singing in Kigali by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze, a very moving Polish drama about the consequences of the Rwandan genocide; the internationally highly acclaimed road movie Directions in which Stephan Komandarev paints an unvarnished picture of the Bulgarian society through nocturnal taxi rides; the unusual artist biography Dovlatov by Russian director Alexey German Jr., an insightful moral portrait of the Soviet Union that was recently awarded a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival; Marina Stepanska’s impressive debut film Falling from Ukraine, both a fragile love story and an intense portrait of a lost generation that made it to the most important competition of LET’S CEE for good reason; Ice Mother by Bohdan Sláma, a Czech-Slovak tragicomedy and love story of a special kind; the dark Slovenian-Croatian social thriller Ivan by Janez Burger; Men Don’t Cry by Alen Drljević, a psychological chamber play starring some of the best male actors of ex-Yugoslavia and which was Bosnia’s candidate for last year’s Academy Awards; Constantin Popescu’s psychological drama Pororoca from Romania about a happy small family’s terrible nightmare; Piotr Domalewski’s multiple-award-winning debut film, the emigrant, Christmas and family tale Silent Night from Poland; the drama Something Useful by Pelin Esmer, an international co-production from Turkey about the unusual encounter of two women on the night train; and The Gateway by Volodymyr Tykhyy from Ukraine, a comedy with fantasy elements about life in the death zone around Chernobyl.
In the Documentary Competition, half of the ten works were fortunately made by female filmmakers. The spectrum of content is, again, immense. The Macedonian entry Avec L’amour by Ilija Cvetkovski discusses the probably last big dream of an old car and motorbike collector, Anastasiya Miroshnichenko’s gripping documentary Debut is about an unusual theatre project in a Belarusian women’s prison, and My Life Without Air by Croatian filmmaker Bojana Burnać tells about the ambitious life of a free dive world champion. Incidentally, the latter and another three documentaries make the topic of extreme and elite sports a focus of this year’s competition. The tough training schedule of a Russian top-class gymnast was documented by young Polish Marta Prus in her entry Over the Limit, the documentary Ultra by Hungarian Balázs Simonyi tells about several protagonists around the annual, 246 km long Spartathlon, and Wonderful Losers: A Different World by Lithuanian Arūnas Matelis is about three cyclists who are riding behind, not leading the way at the Giro d’Italia. As usual, numerous highly-qualified socio-political documentaries will enhance the programme even further. The poetic film No Place for Tears by Reyan Tuvi from Turkey tells about life in a Kurdish village at the Syrian border located close to the battle tone, as well as about escape, solidarity, fears and courage. Czech film The White World According to Daliborek by Vít Klusák is about the strange life and incredibly crude worldview of a neo-Nazi looking for a woman, while the contribution of his fellow countryman Jan Gebert deals with a paramilitary organisation of right wing extremists in Slovakia. Nejra Latić Hulusić and Sabrina Begović-Ćorić discuss a completely different issue in Undercovered, namely the situation of young Muslim women from Bosnia-Herzegovina who have willingly decided to wear hijabs.
13 films will take part in the competition Promising Debuts this year. Andrei Creţulescu’s black tragicomedy Charleston from Romania about an impossible love story and an unusual man-to-man friendship justifiably reminded critics of Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch. The brilliant revenge western Coyote by Márk Kostyál, a story about a fateful expropriation in the deepest Hungarian province, impresses audiences with powerful images and action in the truest sense of the word. The seemingly realistic drama Daybreak by Gentian Koçi, Albania’s entry for the Oscars, is about a single mother’s brutal fight for survival; Dede, a multinational production by Georgian director Mariam Khatchvani, tells about what happens in the Caucasian mountains when a woman refuses to marry the man her grandfather picked out for her; and the multiply awarded, intense coming-of-age-drama Filthy by Tereza Nvotová discusses the rape of a young woman and its consequences. Ederlezi Rising by Serbian newcomer-director Lazar Bodroža being an optically and acoustically exciting science fiction spectacle, as well as How Victor “The Garlic” Took Alexey “The Stud” to the Nursing Home by Alexander Hant, a wild, dynamic and satirical road movie from Russia which is reminiscent of young Danny Boyle in style and flair, pose a strong contrast to this. Also part of the competition: Meda or The Not So Bright Side of Things by Emanuel Pârvu from Romania, a cooling drama in which a man fights for his dignity and his daughter and which was awarded the prizes for Best Director and Best Actor at Sarajevo Film Festival; the wonderfully entertaining tragicomedy Miracle by Lithuanian director Eglė Vertelytė about a bankrupt pork farm that is to be saved by a strange American; Rouzie Hassanova’s debut film Radiogram from Bulgaria, a gripping tale about freedom and the power of music; Secret Ingredient, the black-humoured and well-made debut film by Macedonian Gjorce Stavreski about a son who tries to heal his father with a space cake; the suspenseful thriller The Return by Serbian Predrag Jakšić, a psychological study of a man who, after 40 years in the USA, returns to his homeland to find peace; and finally, Tower. A Bright Day by Jagoda Szelc from Poland, a haunting cinematic experience, walking the line between a psychological thriller and a relationship drama.
Out of hundreds of entries, exactly 15 short films have made it to this year’s competition, curated by Arash T. Riahi and Arman T. Riahi, and among these, again, some incredible world premieres can be found. Over 30 additional exceptional works will be shown in other sections of the short film programme. With The Story of the Polar Bear that Wanted to Go to Africa, an Austrian contribution will also be presented. The biggest surprise: Three films from the small Balkan republic Macedonia have made it to the finale. Contrary to the feature-length films, all entries in this category will be shown with free admission. The same also applies for all other short films in the official programme, including the premieres of virtual reality productions from all over the world. The Actor’s Studio will serve as a meeting point for all short film lovers, the VR films will be shown at the Village Cinema Wien Mitte free of charge.
The winners of the LET’S CEE Awards will be announced on the 20th of April in the course of the award ceremony. Two winners, however, are already certain: With Kira Muratova and Márta Mészáros, not only one but two legendary representatives of Eastern European cinema are going to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award of the LET’S CEE Film Festival. Permanently nonconformist Ukrainian script writer and director Kira Muratova is, to the present day, one of the most important protagonists of Russian film; Márta Mészáros, on the other hand, is the grand dame of Hungarian cinema –both of them are considered important pioneers of European cinema. Mészáros was also the first woman to shoot a feature film in Hungary, and also the first one to win a Golden Bear. In the course of the honouring, a main work of each of these two filmmakers will be screened. Moreover, Márta Mészáros will lead a Master Class in which she will be discussing her very personal approach to filmmaking, her story and her motivation and way of working.
LET’S CEE Film Festival also has some premieres in store concerning the awards: the Cineplexx Distribution Award valuing 20,000 Euros for one film from the Feature Film Competition or the Promising Debuts; the Danny Lerner Award valuing 55,000 Euros (50,000 of which in services) for the best film in the Feature Film Competition, donated by Nu Boyana Film Studios; and the VdFS Award valuing 2,000 Euros for the best short film.
Further Master Classes will be held by Serge Rakhlin, scriptwriter, TV producer and film journalist from Los Angeles, who is also the current head of the selection committee for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, Elliot Grove, founder and director of the Raindance Film Festival and co-founder of the British Independent Film Awards in London, internationally renowned virtual reality expert and cinematic VR pioneer Marcin Łunkiewicz from Poland, and by Croatian-born acting star Leon Lučev. There will be some Lectures this year as well, such as one by visual effects specialist Peter Dimitrov from Bulgaria who, for instance, worked on The Expandables 3 and London Has Fallen.
Apropos: Ticket pre-sale has already started on the 22nd of March. Regular tickets cost 9,50 Euros at the box office and 8,50 Euros in pre-sale; the reduced ticket prices of 8,50 Euros or 7,50 Euros in pre-sale are still very cheap – especially considering the fact that after many screenings a Q&A with film guests is included. The popular festival passes allowing to watch all films for 65 (reduced, pre-sale) to 80 Euros (regular, box office) even offer almost unlimited film enjoyment for a comparatively small amount of money – depending on the availability of free seats.
Last not least: Further information on all other film sections, ranging from retrospectives to festival focuses over discussions to family and school cinema, and on all other films and guests can be found in our Press Release from the 10th of March, 2018, on our website and in the current pocket guide.
The latest texts and photos, as well as the German and English film descriptions that we have provided as download files for media representatives, can be found via the following link:
As always, our film and festival guests will be available for interviews. Concerning that matter, please contact us via email:
Follow this link for the online pocket guide:
As every year, media representatives can request a press accreditation. This way, they have access to all film screenings of the festival and to the Industry Days. In addition, they can attend the LET’S CEE Master Classes at a reduced rate. Further information can be found here:
All open questions regarding press accreditation can be addressed to Linda Pospichal at any time via email@example.com.
Last, but not least:
The next press conference of the LET’S CEE Film Festival will take place on the 13th of April at 6:30 pm in the Urania cinema hall, to which wewould like to cordially invite you now.
With this in mind: LET’S CEE you soon!
For further information or questions please contact:
Mag. Wolfgang P. Schwelle
LET'S CEE Film Festival