The Belarusian independent cinema has made a big step forward in the past two years. But what is next? Does the state have to interfere in the film industry and how many film festivals do we need?
This year has left the Belarusian film experts community euphoric. It will be mainly remembered for the success of Ulada Sian’kova’s "Count in Oranges", which was screened at international film festivals, and the Bulbamovie award-winning “Souls Dead” by Viktar Krasouski.
"This is an intermediate phase, we do not know what will become of it: would it be a step forward or if it remains at the national level", - said Ihar Sukmanau, the programming director of Minsk International Film Festival Listapad.
"The number of festivals has almost doubled, six full-length films were released during the year. We have passed the stage when us coming somewhere to present our films resulted in hearing “Belarusian cinema? Does it exist?”. But there is a quality question: what's next? "- raised the question Leanid Kalitsenia, film producer.
"Out of the three Belarusian films that will be released for wide audience, two are made by Andrei Kureichik, a person absolutely independent from the state, which is rather significant. Also, our international organization "Interfilm" decided to become producers of the Belarusian film industry next year", - stated Siarhei Kozyrau, representative of the film distribution company.
MikalaiLaureniuk, the coordinator of Minsk International Film Festival Listapad noted that it is too early to say that the Belarusian cinema can conquer the world festivals.
"It is fascinating in the local context", - says Mikalai Laureniuk.
Despite the fact that there happened a "festival explosion" in the cinema sphere this year (apart from the traditional "Listapad", Minsk hosted Bulbamovie in its full-fledged form for the first time, "Cinema Perpetuum Mobile", as well as the debut of the "Kinazmena" festival), experts believe that Belarus still has not enough of such events.
"Director - audience - state" – which is one too many?
The meeting moderator, culturologistand a teacher at the Social Cinema Studio Maksim Zhbankou highlighted that all the brightest initiatives appeared out of the state-controlled production.
"I would not make such an unfounded statement: there are animations, documentaries, - Ihar Sukmanau disagreed. - But even a large amount of independent Belarusian films being screened in cinemas - is, paradoxically, state contribution as well. "
Leanid Kalitsenia noticed that the structure of "Belarusfilm" saw almost no change over the 25 years of independence.
"It seems to me that it is simply impossible to ask for more from a bureaucratic structure successors", - outlined the position of the "Belarusfilm" producer.
“It would be good for the state to continue with the non-interference strategy and give us the opportunity to do what we are doing," - agreed with his colleague Andrei Palupanau, director, producer, the head of the Minsk film school.
During the debate participants recalled the Andrei Kudzinienka’s film banned from demonstration at the Bulbamovie Festival.
It is debatable whether film industry requires censorship or not, but there have always been certain limitations, not only in the domestic film industry, but also in the world cinema field.
Future: wide audience and regional events
It is planned that one or two commercial movies will be released in cinemas in the following year, that they will cover the production costs and bring profit, and in the future it is planned to produce at least four such films a year. Leanid Kalitsenia paid attention to the big gap between what is happening in Minsk and in the periphery and he intends to increase the number of independent domestic film events outside the capital city. According to Mikalai Laureniuk Belarus will become a part of the world cinema community next year. And it is a matter not of the funds and not the state, but of the film-makers activity. However the Belarusian cinema still lacks tactics and strategy, it is not clear where it all goes. In this regard, experts say, it is necessary to follow not the major countries, but the Baltic region with its large number of private film festivals.
“Numerous things begin with the fact that people understand the trend, they have faith and they invest money. It seems to me we can be successful if we move in the right direction. And after a while, the state will have to take the independent Belarusian cinema seriously, "- says Leanid Kalitsenia.