Long-awaited European Film Festival kicks off in Baku

By: Amina Nazarli

The long-awaited European Film Festival kicked off in Baku on October 29.

The opening ceremony was held in the Park Cinema located in the Park Bulvar shopping center with attendance of Park Cinema Network Director Namig Guliyev, Head of the EU office in Baku Malena Mard and Belgian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Carine Petit.

Organized by Park Cinema and supported by the EU delegation in Azerbaijan, the nine-day event will feature some 18 films from different parts of Europe and Azerbaijan.

At the conference Guliyev said that this year’s festival will differ from the previous ones.

“If at the previous festivals the number of presented European films was only 10-12, now the program will include 18. The viewers will also have a chance to watch the national film “Killer” by Kamran Shahmardan, based on the play by renowned writer and playwright Elchin Efendiyev,” he said.

He noted that the festival will be held in several venues including Park Bulvar, located at the 1 Neftchilar Avenue; Metro Park at 44 Tarbriz street; and Flame Towers at 1A Mehdi Huseyn street.

Moreover, the shooting staff will also be among the guests, Guliyev said, adding “they are film directors, actors and screenwriters from Lithuania, Croatia, and Estonia, who will present their films to the viewers.”

The number of viewers of the festival is increasing every year, and this year the number is expected to exceed 7,000 people.

The head of the EU office in Baku, for her part, noted another innovation of the festival.

During the event, viewers will have an opportunity to select the best film of the festival, through online voting and won the chance to attend the Berlin Film Festival.

“Voting for the favorite film will be available on the official website of the EU office on Facebook. The winner will be selected among the voters by lottery that will give a chance to visit the prestigious Berlin Film Festival

Attending at the event, the Belgian Ambassador stressed that during the selection of the films, the organizers took the interests of the Azerbaijani audience into account.

The first film of the festival was “Turquaze”, by Belarusian-Turkish production. The film reflects the theme of migrants, and tells the story of a Turkish family living in Belgium.

Petit said that the film is about the love between Turkish man and Belgian woman, and this may remember the story of the heroes of the “Ali and Nino” novel by an Azerbaijani author, who wrote under the pen name Kurban Said.

The speakers emphasized that the festival contributes to the strengthening and development of cultural cooperation between European countries and also increases the interest of the audience for European cinema.

The films – representing various genres like comedy, drama, documentary, animation – will make the Festival attractive to all film lovers. The featured films were produced in Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, UK, Austria, Croatia, Belgium, Romania, Italy, Estonia, France, Spain, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan will be demonstrated during the event.

The film festival will run until November 6. Entrance to all films is free and no tickets are needed.

The European Film Festival has been organized by the EU delegation to Azerbaijan since 2010 and serves to further build and strengthen the cultural links between the countries of the European Union and Azerbaijan, contributing to a better mutual understanding.