With stories of aging and everyday life, the cinematic masterpieces of Eastern European women take center stage at this year's goEast film festival in Germany. Hungary's Márta Mészáros is a special guest.
Women filmmakers from Eastern Europe were recently thrust into the spotlight at the Berlinale, Berlin's annual international film festival. At the end of the February event, Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi took home a Golden Bear for her work, "On Body and Soul."
Agnieszka Holland from Poland and Romanian editor Dana Bunescu also received Silver Bears. This year's festival was a triumph not only for women in the film industry, but also for the cinema of Central and Eastern Europe.
Strong voices from Eastern Europe
Films from this region haven't had an easy time of it at international festivals in recent years - and women in film have always had extra hurdles. In terms of promotion and production, they undoubtedly have to face more challenges than their male colleagues. That's why it's important that film festivals like goEast in Wiesbaden focus on aspects of film production that have otherwise been neglected.
It's not surprising that the 17th edition of the goEast Film Festival is to be opened in Wiesbaden on Wednesday with a film directed by a woman: Nana Ekvtimishvili of Georgia partnered with Simon Gross of Germany for "My Happy Family" (pictured at the top of the article).
Their film tells the story of an older woman, the mother of two adult children, who wants to escape from her family's home because four generations will soon have to live under one roof - and that's a bit too much for her. Instead, she wants to enjoy the rest of her life and not just be seen as a grandmother.
Márta Mészáros visits Wiesbaden
"My Happy Family" is one of 10 films that made it into this year's competition, along with six documentaries. Both the in-competition films and the rest of the program focus on stories impacting women. With an homage, the event honors another major female director from Eastern Europe, namely the grande dame of Hungarian film, 85-year-old Márta Mészáros.
Márta Mészáros, born in 1931, has made more than 60 films since 1954. Her personal history explains why she feels a need to tell stories. When she was only five years old, her parents moved to the former Soviet Union. During the barbaric cleansing actions of the Stalinists, her father disappeared without a trace. Shortly afterwards, her mother died in a Moscow hospital.
The film cosmos of Márta Mészáros
Subsequently, Márta Mészáros grew up with a Hungarian foster mother with whom she returned to her home country in 1947. After studying in Moscow, she started to make documentaries in Hungary and then went on to feature films.
Mészáros' oeuvre has received numerous awards, among them a Berlinale Kamera. Film fans who are eager to learn more about the history of Hungary, as well as the present situation in the country under President Viktor Orbán, can look forward in particular to Márta Mészáros' visit to goEast in Wiesbaden.