A new era of Belarusian cinema began in Berlin
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At the Berlinale, Belarusian filmmakers announced the creation of an independent film academy in exile. This is an unprecedented event for the post-Soviet countries, writes DW.
On February 17, a group of young cinematographers from Belarus presented the Belarusian Independent Film Academy. Its founders were six people who left Belarus for political reasons: the founder of the Minsk film festival “Northern Lights” Olga Chaikovskaya, directors Daria Zhuk, Andrey Kutilo and Aleksey Poluyan, former program director of the Minsk festival “Listapad” Igor Sukmanov and film critic Irena Kotelovich.< br />
"The trouble helped us unite. The idea had been lying on the surface for a long time, but at first it all ended in conversations. And then in Belarus they detained the director of the Watch Docs festival Tatyana Gatsura-Yavorskaya, a very open and honest person – everyone wanted to help, but no one could formulate a plan of action, and everyone wrote appeals wherever they could. Tatyana was released – probably not because of these letters, but we realized that we needed to unite. And when the war started, in one or two days we collected 130 signatures of Belarusian filmmakers under an anti-war statement,” says director Aleksey Poluyan.
National film academies in all countries lobby and represent the interests of film workers. In a situation where, according to Aleksey Poluyan, more than 90 percent of Belarusian filmmakers were forced to emigrate, no organizations located inside Belarus can no longer represent them. The only possibility left is unification outside the borders of Belarus. This is what happened in Berlin.
In Europe, the emergence of the new film academy was enthusiastically hailed as a “timely and necessary undertaking” (quote from the website of the European Film Academy). At the same time, the creation of such organizations is usually carried out with state support, and not by people who, according to Poluyan, “should make films, not create organizations.”
“It's all out of great need. I paused work on the script for a few months so that we could present the organization normally at the Berlinale,” the director says.
In addition to representation, the new academy also has a creative function: it will help integrate Belarusian authors into European film institutions – into film funds and film festivals. And also to reduce authors and producers. In fact, this work has already begun – ten Belarusian projects selected by film critics were presented at the event, which have every chance to interest producers at the Berlinale. Without the academy, these projects would have had to fight their way one by one in much more difficult conditions.
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