Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Film festival explores post-communism in eastern Europe


Bucharest — The One World Romania international human rights documentary film festival which opened in Bucharest on Monday reviews the struggles of eastern Europe since the collapse of communism 25 years ago.

A quarter century after the fall of the Iron Curtain, "we still have to fight against corruption and prejudices but we are free," the Czech ambassador to Romania Jiri Sitler said at the opening ceremony.

"Others must still fight for their basic freedom and their state, as we have seen recently in the case of the aggression against Ukraine and the so-called referendum in Crimea," Sitler added to hearty applause.

One World Romania, among the most important festivals of its kind in eastern Europe, was created under the patronage of late Czech president Vaclav Havel, the icon of the anticommunist movement in the region.

Its seventh edition comes as "for the first time since 1989, a wind of solidarity" is blowing over the region, with thousands of protesters taking to the streets last year in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Romania against a political class accused of nepotism, organisers said.

A highlight of the "25 Years Later" category, "The Family", a documentary by German filmmaker Stefan Weinert, explores the damage inflicted by the communist dictatorial regime on human beings.

Members of the audience will be encouraged to tell their own stories of life under communism on camera, to be compiled and shown at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

The "Rules of Corruption" section focuses on one of the common plagues of post-communist societies.

"Free Smetana" (Czech Republic) and "Putin's Games" (Israel-Germany-Austria) portray administrations crumbling under the weight of graft.

The festival also invites moviegoers to leave cinema halls and learn more about the topics firsthand, such as on guided tours in Bucharest of sites related to major Romanian graft cases.

Another section, "Rebels with a Cause", will feature "Ukraine Is not a Brothel" focusing on the Femen women's rights group, and "Pussy Versus Putin", about the Russian punk group Pussy Riot.

"Rebels are very creative, otherwise they would probably stand no chance of asserting themselves in repressive regimes," festival director Alexandru Solomon told AFP.

"After getting together on social networks, art and rebellion now mingle in the street," he added.

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