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Organizers' Press Conference
The press conference dedicated to the 1st Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West" was held on March 5 at 11 am in the Western Press Media Group Conference Hall. Among the speakers were Alexey Agranovich, Festival's General Producer; Alexey Medvedev, Festival's Program Director, director Alexander Kudryashov and playwright Lyuba Strizhak, Curators, Documentary Theatre Lab (Levitan Street Project), and Olga Kaverzina, Director, ANCO "Festival Management."

Origin // Why "On the Edge?"

The inaugural Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West" will take place in Kaliningrad from April 26 till May 3.

The "On the Edge" festival project was launched 8 years ago on Sakhalin. Since then, it has transformed from a nondescript event dedicated to national cinema into a large-scale international forum with a vast and comprehensive program, impressive competition and distinguished Jury, as well as several creative workshops that open during the festival. Today, "On the Edge" is not just a film festival or a celebration of cinema but a regional social development driver that engages local residents, impacting their life and providing them with a broad spectrum of creative opportunities in different areas.

Alexey Agranovich, General Producer, The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": "For us, this festival is not about simply showing new films. As proven by our experience on Sakhalin, it can become a large-scale social project, a focal point for creative and committed forces of the region, a hub for different initiatives to get together. Cinema is something of a bait, it grants inspiration and provides new opportunities for personal fulfillment. The festival's workshops of creative and educational nature establish new connections between people and eventually may lead to creating a regional cultural production. The festival creates a unique situation where both the demand for this production and its supply are literally born before our eyes."

It's 11,000 kilometers (more than 6,800 miles) from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Kaliningrad as these two cities are the extreme points on the map of Russia, the country's eastern and western cultural gates. Besides their opposite location, Sakhalin and Kaliningrad have a lot in common. First, both regions exist in a state of certain geographical isolation: Sakhalin is an island, Kaliningrad – an enclave. Second, in recent memory, the Russian-speaking majority settled both in Kaliningrad and the south of Sakhalin only after the WWII. Third, both Kaliningrad and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk are key points for the cultural dialogue with Russia's neighbors: in Sakhalin's case those are Japan, Korea and China; in Kaliningrad's – the Eastern and Central European countries.

In 2019, a new mark has appeared on the international festival map – "On the Edge: Go West." The new festival has similar goals and objectives to those of the "On the Edge: Go East" project: becoming a platform for local residents' personal fulfillment in different areas of cultural and social activity.

But "On the Edge" is not a one-size-fits-all project. That is why The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West" was designed and will be developed with due regard to the specific features of this very region, Kaliningrad Oblast.
Alexey Agranovich, General Producer, The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": "On the Edge" has less to do with geographical remoteness and more to do with the invisible edge between the brightness of the spot lamp and the darkness of the screening room. On the edge of light, the audience and the author meet. Together, they search for answers to the questions asked by life itself. The edge of light is the rendezvous point for the audience to meet with the film and its creators."

Competition and Programs

There are two competition programs at The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West" – Films to Grow and Fiction.doc.

Alexey Agranovich, General Producer, The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": "While analyzing the regional specifics, we saw that "On the Edge: Go West" must become so much more than another high-quality international film festival. We were looking for the conceptual "glue" that would be relevant to this particular region and at the same time wouldn't mimic the existing festival projects. Eventually we have come up with a solution that seemed the only right one: to make the most interesting and mysterious, in our opinion, viewers – children and teenagers – the target audience of our festival. There's nothing like our festival in Russia. Over the course of the festival week we will try, together with our audience and participants (which are often one and the same), to articulate new questions to help us find our way in today's reality. In the world of the future that came true, which we all inhabit, where all experience previously accumulated by the humanity has turned to be, for some reasons, locked or inaccessible, we turn to people who have no knowledge of this experience, who have no boundaries and no agenda but themselves and their youth."

The Films to Grow competition program consists of 7 full-length films for children and teenagers. It will include films from any countries (with emphasis on Russian and European cinema) and any genres (comedies, musicals, historical and social dramas, fantasy) showcasing the issues surrounding a child's life in our time or any other era. Maria Tereschenko, one of the most distinguished Russian specialists in animation and children's cinema, is responsible for the films in the Films to Grow competition program and non-competition children's program.
The films of the children's competition will be evaluated by 2 Juries, the teenage one and the adult one (consisting of 10 schoolteachers). Applications for the latter will be open and the requirements will soon be published on the festival's website.

Any person aged 12 to 17 living in Kaliningrad or Kaliningrad Oblast can become a member of the teen jury. In order to apply the candidate should present in any format a review of a film that impressed them – it may be an essay, a video, or an audio clip. All teachers in all fields with more than a year of experience, as well as retired educators, are invited to apply for the adult jury.
Application period will be open till April 5. You can find more information here.

Every jury will have a curator responsible both for the workflow management and discussion moderation. The adult jury of the inaugural Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West" will be curated by Russian journalist Philipp Bakhtin, former Editor-in-Chief of Esquire Russia, founder and producer of "Kamchatka" creative camp for children. Kirill Ivanov, the frontman of the Russian band "Samoe Bolshoe Prostoe Chislo" ("Largest Known Prime Number") and one of "Kamchatka's" youth leaders, will be in charge of the teen jury.

The Fiction.doc competition will include 10 films – 5 documentaries and 5 feature films, selected by Festival's Program Director Alexey Medvedev, curator of numerous international film festivals, and Natalia Pylaeva, documentary cinema expert. Fiction.doc will be evaluated by a professional jury composed of 4 filmmakers.

Alexey Medvedev, Program Director, The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": "Modern reality is overly complicated: there is our day-to-day life, news, TV, virtual reality, including social media and video games, a lot of hoaxes, but at the same time, many true tragedies and fortunate events. We don't classify films as staged or documentary because the line between fiction and reality is sometimes too elusive even for their very creators. The only question we ask, how successfully did the author manage to convey the exceptionally challenging, vibrant modern reality?"

Besides the competition, the festival will screen full-length and short animation films. The Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theatre will be the main venue of the Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West."

Regional Cultural Production // Creative Labs

The main objective of the "On the Edge" project's creative labs and workshops is to provide new opportunities for Kaliningrad Oblast's residents' personal fulfillment and create a platform for the unique regional cultural production. The workshops focus both on the result – the creative labs will showcase their work on the closing day of the festival – and the process itself, so some of them will remain open beyond the festival week.

Six creative workshops for residents of Kaliningrad and Kaliningrad Oblast will be launched during the inaugural Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": three for children and teenagers, and three for the adults. Application period for all festival's workshops is open till April 5.

1. Teen Cinema Lab

Curators: screenwriter Elena Vanina and director, cameraman Kirill Kulagin.
Over the course of the festival week the participants of the Teen Cinema Lab will watch films, analyze and discuss them, and will, of course, also have a go at filmmaking.

Elena Vanina, Curator, Teen Cinema Lab: "We are perfectly aware that one week is not nearly enough to teach even the most gifted teenager to make films. That is why our objective is different. Our main task is to rid those teenagers of their fear of shooting and having something to say, to break the walls between the child's perceived self and the detached "cinema world." We will also give them a daily creative task, be it a script, cinematography, casting or the artistic content of the film."

You can find the conditions for participation in the Teen Cinema Lab here.

2. Animation Workshop

Curators: "DA" Animation Studio
Animation Workshop is intended for the youngest residents of Kaliningrad Oblast aged from 7 to 11. Over the course of 5 days, the participants will learn about all stages of creating an animated film – from the concept and the story board to shooting and sound recording. All children will get a chance to try their hand in real grown-up roles: script writer, director, artist, animation artist and voice actor. Together with the curators, they will create an alternative portrait of Kaliningrad.

The participants will be invited to populate the familiar urban environment with fictional characters and stories; they will look for inspiration in the yards and on the streets, finding the nontrivial and enhancing it with the impossible. The photos taken during this "location scouting" will become the background for the fantastic events of the animated film to be made and screened at the Closing Ceremony of the Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West."

You can find additional information about participation in the workshop here.

3. Urban Development Workshop for School Students

Curator – Mikhail Alekseevsky, anthropologist, folklorist; Head of Strelka KB Center for Urban Anthropology.

Students from grades 8 to 11 who live in Kaliningrad, are committed to their city and eager to learn more about it are invited to join the Urban Development Workshop. Over the course of just a few days the participants will learn how to conduct urban research by actually doing it and will also design and develop a comprehensive creative project based on that survey and dedicated to one of the city's districts. This project will be presented to the public on the last day of the festival. No special skills or experience are required to join the Urban Development Workshop. The only thing needed is one's keen interest in Kaliningrad and eagerness to uncover its mysteries and be creative. You can find additional information about participation in the workshop here.

4. Documentary Filmmaking Workshop

Curator: Olga Privolnova, director

The workshop by Olga Privolnova, a graduate of Marina Razhbezhkina School of Documentary Film and Documentary Theatre, focuses not so much on the art of documentaries as on busting stereotypes about what documentary filmmaking actually is. The Documentary Workshop is all about mastering the optics, being able to observe and see. Starting from day one, the participants, aged 18 to 40, go out on the street with a camera. Their mission is to purposefully shine the light of their attention on what remains unseen by most people. To see the worlds obscured by trite and boring words like "reality," "actuality" and "mundanity."

Olga Privolnova, Curator, Documentary Filmmaking Workshop: "Going go out on the street with a camera, noticing people, seeing the mundane in a different light and boldly going where you you're genuinely drawn to – we're offering to teach people all that in our Documentary Filmmaking Workshop. Over the course of the week the participants of the workshop will complete daily direction tasks – finding stories, filming, editing and eventually creating their independent short documentary."

No professional training in directing, filming or writing is required to participate in the Documentary Filmmaking Workshop; special technical skills are also optional. You can find additional information about participation here.

5. Documentary Theatre Lab: the Levitan Street Project

Curators: Alexander Kudryashov, director; Lyuba Strizhak, playwright

Do we know the people living next to us – the neighbor across the hall, the woman in the supermarket who's been selling us groceries for years, the bus driver taking us to the office every day? What do we all have in common? What divides us? Do we even know ourselves? Modern documentary theatre seeks answers to all those questions. In documentary theatre, performances are based on the testimonies of real people. Over the course of the festival week the participants of the Lab will painstakingly gather content for their first documentary play by finding, listening to and recording residents of Kaliningrad. On the closing day of the Festival there will be a reading of the documentary play based on those stories in The Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theatre. All residents of Kaliningrad and Kaliningrad Oblast over 18 with enough free time on their hands from April 23 to May 3 are invited to join the Lab. Additional information about participation can be found here.

6. "Private Memory Museum" Workshop

Curators: Arzamas Team

The workshop is dedicated to the creation of a local "Private Memory Museum" in Kaliningrad Soldier's Home. The exhibit will be based on the stories told by the city's residents – tales of their lives in Kaliningrad, the way the city looked and lived 30, 50, 70 years ago, as well as historical documents and personal items.

During the festival the participants of the workshop, led by the curators, will conduct an ethnographic research: they will talk to the residents of the Soldier's Home, record and edit their audio narratives, select the items for display. The workshop's activity will result in creation of the first exhibit of the "Private Memory Museum" that will be presented to the public during the Closing Ceremony of the "On the Edge" Festival. Over time, a permanent exhibition is planned to be displayed in the Soldier's Home.

The global objective of the workshop is to engage the residents of the Kaliningrad Soldier's Home and, in general, the older urban generation in cultural activities of the city, to transform the facility into a public space with proper cultural events (in the broadest sense – from concerts to cooking classes) planned.
Additional information about participation can be found here.

Pure and Simple // Seeing in Different Light

The festival will begin with a low-key Opening Ceremony in the Drama Theatre, this working mode allowing to introduce the audience to all the festival's activities and projects, its style, foundations and spirit.

The presentation of the works produced by the festival's creative workshops and the wrap-up of the cinematic activity will be the highlights of the Closing Ceremony of the inaugural Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West."

Alexey Agranovich, General Producer, The Kaliningrad International Film Festival "On the Edge: Go West": "While encouraging the audience to see the most familiar things in a different light, to be acutely sensitive to the time and aware of it, the festival itself cannot remain unaffected by those matters. Finding one's identity, rejecting the obnoxious formal trappings traditionally associated with film festivals – like the red carpet, for instance – those are the challenges we set for ourselves. We are curious about the cinema and the world it reflects and we live in – right here, right now."



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