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The competitions of the 31st FilmFestival Cottbus at a glance

Eastern Europe between Teachers' Lounge, Murman Railway and Brighton Beach


The 31st FilmFestival Cottbus returns to the Cottbus’ cinemas from 2nd to 7th of November and presents 32 films from 26 (co-)production countries in its three competitions feature film, short film and youth film. One of the films will celebrate its world premiere in Cottbus and 26 films their German premiere. 

In the Feature Film Competition, twelve films will compete for the main prize of 25,000 euros from the Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrechten (GWFF), the special prize for the best director (7,500 euros, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg) and the prize for an outstanding acting performance (5,000 euros, Sparkasse Spree-Neiße) along with the coveted prize sculpture LUBINA (Sorbian: the lovely one). 

With its diversity of countries, the competition presents the cultural diversity of Eastern Europe. With its artistic range between ironically fractured observation of the present, investigative reappraisal of history and contemplative family study, it shows the genre diversity of current Eastern European cinema - personal and political, hopeful and melancholic. This year we are especially pleased to present many stories by and about women. They fight for their freedom, try to assert themselves in long-established pecking orders or confront their fears. At the same time, veteran directors like Levan Koguashvili or Zrinko Ogresta as well as FFC regulars like Jan P. Matuszyński and Ilgar Najaf meet promising newcomers such as Sonja Tarokić, Norika Sefa or Matevž Luzar, whose film ORCHESTRA, a close-up, distanced milieu study about the culture clash and generation conflict during a visit of a Slovenian brass band to Austria, will have its world premiere at the FFC.

The 31st FilmFestival Cottbus opens with the competition entry ABTEIL NR. 6, by the Finnish star director Juho Kuosmanen, who won several prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. An unconventional love story between a Finnish student and a Russian alcoholic is told in dreamy images.

In addition, with IN LIMBO by Alexander Hant, who is also represented for a second time with an entry in the Short Film Competition, we experience a mixture of "Thelma and Luise" and "Natural Born Killers" in a road movie about two rebellious teenagers. Witness the cover-up attempts in socialist Poland after the death of a high school graduate in a police assault in 1983 in LEAVE NO TRACES by Jan P. Matuszyński, who won two prizes at the FFC in 2016 with THE LAST FAMILY. Search for freedom with two teenage girls in the patriarchal environment of provincial Kosovo in LOOKING FOR VENERA by Norika Sefa. Watch the struggle for survival of failed immigrants from Georgia, Russia and Uzbekistan in New York in the Tribeca Festival winner BRIGHTON 4TH by Levan Koguashvili with Hollywood cinematographer Phedon Papamichael. In SAVING THE ONE WHO WAS DEAD by Václav Kadrnka, we follow the attempt of mother and son to bring their comatose father back to life. Let Ilgar Najaf's SUGHRA AND HER SONS take us with poetic black-and-white images of a Muslim minority in World War II who hide from being drafted into the Red Army because they do not feel obliged to the Soviet Union that confronts them primarily as a representative of Russian interests.

Experience with a young teacher in Sonja Tarokić's THE STAFFROOM that she has to play her own game between intrigues in order to survive in the shark tank of a school. In Cecília Felméri's SPIRAL, between drop-out idyll and nightmare landscape, witness the shattering decay of a human being. In 107 MOTHERS by Peter Kerekes, we follow a new mother into a women's prison in Odessa. And learn gently and sensitively about the fears of three generations of women in Zrinko Ogresta's A BLUE FLOWER.

In the Short Film Competition, eleven films are competing this year for the main prize of 2,500 euros from Druckzone and the special prize for the best director, which is awarded in the amount of 1,500 euros by Tiede+.

From the longing for the freedom of the Berlin techno scene in a Lithuanian prefabricated building in TECHNO MAMA to the failed attempt of a Kazakh policeman in COMRADE POLICEMAN to portray 'his' police as a transparent institution serving the citizens to the bittersweet everyday thriller at a Czech bathing lake in ANATOMY OF A CZECH AFTERNOON, everything is there - between trenchant social anecdote and experimental reflection, the short film proves itself to be an independent genre. with special artistic laws.

Seven films are represented in this year's U18 Youth Film Competition, all of which have hopes of winning the prize for the best youth film, endowed with 5,000 euros by the City of Cottbus.

The films describe very different aspects of the 'coming-of-age process': from fragile friendships to bullying problems to the struggle with the algorithms that increasingly penetrate everyday life, thus giving an overview of the different and yet so similar life worlds of young people in different countries in Eastern Europe.

From two best friends who drift apart during puberty in SISTERHOOD to the portrait of a fragile father-daughter relationship in GERANIUM to the closeted gay existence in an 'LGBT-free zone' in Poland in LOVE TASTING In the U18 Competition Youth Film, emotions run riot and the great urge for freedom calls out again and again. In the trendy-experimental coming-of-age film YOUTH TOPIA, high-tech hippies dance and an algorithm calculate who you are and what you are allowed to do, while in LEAVE THE GROUP an internet mob between Russian hip-hop and graffiti street art incites a teenager to murder. In TRÜBE WOLKEN, a boy without qualities becomes a projection screen for the longings of his fellow human beings, and in TWO SHIPS, a bitter story about love unfolds against the backdrop of the Moravian city of Brno to the beat of hip indie music.

For its 31st edition, the many facets of cinema from Eastern Europe will once again shine in the competitions of the FilmFestival Cottbus. Thanks to the dual version of the FFC, viewers can also enjoy curated festival cinema streaming from home again this year.

Advance ticket sales are on now at and at all Reservix advance sales points. Tickets for the 31st FFC cost between 4.00 EUR and 7.50 EUR. For FFC lovers there are 5-ticket passes and festival passes once again. For the first time, the FFC also offers an online FestivalPass..

The latest information on the festival can be found at



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