Chesnok is the first human rights documentary film festival in Transnistria, which was organized by Apriori ILC in May 2016 with support of The Movies that Matter foundation from the Netherlands and organization People in Need from Czech Republic.
The main objective of the festival is to show to the large audience from Transnistrian region the actual films about human rights, and to create the local platform for discussing the contemporary problems in this domain.
The format of festival
Holding of traveling film festivals is widespread for many European film festivals, which are the best examples and reference points for Chesnok. Thanks to the format of traveling festival the audience from Bender, Dubasari and Ribnita had the opportunity to watch the films, though many cultural events are usually available only for those who live in Tiraspol. Also we decided to make one day of screenings in Chisinau, where we have friends and partners. The whole program with 8 films was shown in Tiraspol in Club 19.
Chesnok film festival is non-profit project, that’s why all of the screenings had free entrance.
Program & experts
Our region doesn’t have any tools for support or production of contemporary documantaries, that’s why the program of Chesnok film festival consists of movies from foreign filmmakers. And that’s why we don’t have any competitive component like voting for the best movie. But we hope that Chesnok in the future can be a good platform for young talented and creative local filmmakers.
This year the program of Chesnok consisted of 8 documentaries — 5 full-length and 3 short films — from well-known directors from Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Israel. The movies were screened on big international film festivals like IDFA, One World, Berlinale, Art DocFest, DocuDays, HotDocs and got some awards there.
Films of Chesnok 2016:
1. Chechnya: War without Trace / 2015, Manon Loizeau
2. Something Better to Come / 2014, Hanna Polak
3. The Queen of Silence / 2014, Agnieszka Zwiefka
4. This is my land / 2015, Tamara Erde
5. A Goat for a Vote / 2013, Jeroen van Velzen
6. Red White Green / 2013, Tarek Raffoul
7. Slaves / 2008, David Aronowitsch & Hanna Heilbor
8. Tussilago / 2010, Jonas Odell
All of the films were selected with considering their relevance for our region and different socio-cultural processes, which are common for local community. We invited special guests who are experts in domains related to movies’ topics for better analysis and comprehension of audience.
Andrei Trubceac, the expert from Romania, helped to understand some features of educational systems of 2 states which were in armed conflict. The film “This is my land” by Tamara Erde shows the differences in teaching history in Israel and Palestine — 2 countries with different cultures and ideologies, two controvesal histories and one common unresolved conflict. Andrei Trubceac is the projects coordinator in Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR), has Master’s degree about problems of development and peace-building in regions with frozen conflicts. He led the project aimed to solve the problems in education system and to create multilingual environment for schools in Ukraine.
After the screening of movie “Chechnya: War without Trace” there was a discussion with Albert Kuznetsov, lawyer of Committee for the Prevention of Torture. It is the biggest Russian human rights organization which investigates allegations of torture by state agents, provides victims of torture with medical psychological support, and represents them at the national level. Albert is the part of mobile group of human rights NGOs in Chechen republic and took part in many resonance incidents, which were in Chechnya recently.
“Red White Green” is the film about 37-old man with Down syndrome and his aging mother who is aware that after her death noone can take care of her son. The movie was filmed in Hungary, but the same problem also exists in Transnistria. We invited Ludmila Borodina, the chairman of rehabilitation and consulting center OSORC from Tiraspol. It is the organization which deals with social integration of young people with neuropsychiatric deviations, providing them basic knowledges and skills for increasing the possibility to self-realization and employing.
From Chesnok’s team
Once you’ve been to cinema festival, you remember it forever. If you are really interested in it. Maybe you don’t remember exactly everything from content and even the name of the film, but the spirit of the festival which is everywhere in the city you can’t forget. Full auditorium, the atmosphere of conversations between spectators before and after the screenings, discussions with directors and protagonists, beautiful posters, catalogues and flyers and, of course, the movies. I felt this during international documentary film festival in Jihlava, the same was in Prague — during the human rights documentary film festival “One World”.
You just dream to come back next year to these festivals, but in Autumn we got the grant from Movies that Matter, and got support from People in Need, formed the team and started to work. The main part was done by 3 of us, but during the festival 2 staff members from Apriori and volunteers helped us to make a great festival.
For the name of our festival we chose the word Chesnok (which means “garlic”), but in Russian this word has phonetical similarity with the word “chestno” (which means “honest”). We think that guests of our festival can expect the open and honest dialogue.
During the preparations we faced some questions and risks, which are not common for modern society in developed countries — control from state security service, cautious and mistrustful audience, осторожная и недоверчивая аудитория, unpopularity of human rights work in our region and delusions related to it, hard-to-reach places for advertisement and inefficient mass-media. But in the same time there were a lot of good cooperation, new contacts and feedback.
We are convinced that documentary film festival can involve many spectators in communication process, stable several universal terms about human rights in our society, help to get some society-useful knowledges and esthetically educate. The society can’t transform in a day, and the expected results will come after some time. Honestly, holding the festival in Transnistria is a difficult but interesting experience, which we had and plan to have in the future.
The festival is organised by Informational and Legal Center “A priori” and supported by an international platform Movies that Matter Foundation, czech organisation People in Need, in partnership with The Embassy of Sweden in Chisinau, German Cultural Center Akzente and Advertising agency Casa imago.
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