Black Nights is the oldest Eurasia festival. Astana in Kazakhstan ventured in this direction back in 1998, then went on hiatus until 2005. Around the same time, Antalya in Turkey introduced the a Eurasia subfestival at the Golden Orange. And this year New York is launching a EurAsia festival.
The EurAsia competition kicks off at Black Nights for the seventh time, the first having been held in 2004. The competition programe is incomparably more wide-ranging, about one and a half times bigger than our those of our colleagues and competitors. Twenty-two films are in the running.
A bit much? Undoubtedly so. But I remember a Cannes with 23 films. That’s quite a comparison to make but a complete picture of the year requires different colours.
Precisely Asia has given us debuts with a personal view of the world: a Solzhenytsinesque Chinese film "The Ditch", the Iranian neorealist "Gesher", an Indian folksy black comedy "Peepli live". The latter is also India’s national Oscar nominee. A Tatar film is competing for te first time ("Bibinur").
Russia is well-represented. After all, Tatarstan is de facto a part of the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian-German-French joint "My joy" is in Russian and has Russian actors, while "Silent Souls" mystifies a nonexistent Finno-Ugric people in the northern part of Rus ia. It stars an actress with an Estonian name and roots in Narva. The German "The Poll Diaries" revives life on a Lääne-Viru county manor at the outset of World War One. And last but not least, "The Temptations of St. Tony’s" is vying for an European Academy Award.
Oscar nominees include films from Denmark ("In a Better World"), Iraq („Son of Babylon“), India and Estonia. The Danish and Indian films were directed by women. The oldest films at the festival are also the most famous: 72-year-old Jerzy Skolimowski ("Essential Killing") and 60-yearold Abbas Kiarostami ("Certified Copy"). And 54-year-old Englishman Danny Boyle ("127 Hours"). The youngest is a 23-year-old first-time director, the Japanese Naoki Hashimoto ("Birhtright") and the 29-yearold Iranian Valid Vakilifar ("Gesher"). There are seven directors under 40. There is indeed no minimum age for becoming a film-maker.
We tried to enter newest films in the competition, and most of them made their premiere in the second half of the year. The goal of the festivals is to bring new colours into common currency. For example we are already familiar with the works that have received the most nominations from the European Film Academy. Polanski’s "The Ghost Writer" made a run in Estonian cinemas and Turkey’s "Honey" received its awards in Berlin. The French "Carlos" is a five-hour opus magnus. We still considered it necessary to include the Kyrghyz "The Light Thief", which was best of festival in Astana. One must show respect toward one’s colleague festivals.
Competition programme director