For Immediate Release:

VISITING RUSSIAN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS SHARE WORK 
Films raise questions about the aftermath of terrorist attacks, tradition and village life in a post-modern world.
“Never forget”—even when the questions about who, how, when, and why remain unanswered. This is the message that filmmaker Olga Stefanova put forth in her documentary film, Beslan: The Right to Live. The film returns to Beslan, the tiny town in Southern Russia thrust briefly into the international spotlight when, in September 2004, more 300 people were killed and over 1000 held hostage in a school gymnasium in an apparent terrorist action against the Russian Federation. In a story that will be familiar to New Yorkers, the people of Beslan have returned, after two years, to the normal rhythm of their lives, in spite of lingering questions about the nature of the attack. 

The film is one of three selected by an international committee of nominators to be screened in New York this summer as part of the Open World Cultural Leaders Program, which, facilitated by CEC ArtsLink, enhances cross-cultural communication between the US and Russia through the arts. 

Stefanova, along with two other filmmakers and one film curator, will travel to the US this June, attend the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (RFS) in upstate New York, and spend five days in New York. The program seeks to benefit the filmmakers’ careers— while at RFS, they will meet with filmmakers from around the world, and in New York, with film experts and festival organizers— and to provide an opportunity for the Americans to view independent documentary films from Russia. 

In addition to a screening on site at RFS, the films will be shown in New York at Anthology Film Archives on July 1st at 7:30pm. The screening is free and open to the public, and will be followed by Q&A with the filmmakers. To attend, please RSVP to Elena Ryabova at eryabova@cecartslink.org. 

Three films will be featured at the screenings. They are: 

PHANTOM OF EUROPE, by Igor Morozov; 2007, 26 min. 
Rising out of the plains of small town Russia stands… The Eiffel Tower?!? In this charming film, Morozov explores the cadences of village life in a region of Russia know to locals as “Little Europe”. 

CHILDREN OF THE GREAT LAKE, by Anastasia Tarasova; 2006, 25 min. 
On the Northern shores of Lake Baikal, in one of the world’s most stunning natural environments, a village struggles to find hope for the future after its economic mainstay, the construction of the vast Baikal-Amur Railway connecting Siberia to the Russian Far East, has been completed. 

BESLAN. THE RIGHT TO LIVE, by Olga Stefanova; 2006, 44 min. 
Filmmakers return to Beslan, the site of the 2004 hostage crisis where over 1000 people were held in a school gymnasium, and more than 300 died. What remains for residents after the world has moved on? 

This is the third year that CEC ArtsLink has partnered with RFS to deliver this program, with support from the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. Saint Petersburg filmmaker Nadezhda Bolshakova, who participated in the 2007 residency, wrote, “the program not only broadened my professional horizons, but also changed my mentality and attitude towards America – its culture and people from the arts community – toward the positive.” 

Margaret Dikovitskaya, author of Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual after the Cultural Turn, has attended past film screenings presented in conjunction with this program, often inviting guests who might otherwise have not ever been introduced to Russian culture. “As an art historian who grew up in Russia,” she writes, “I would like to stay informed about the recent developments in the art world; I am grateful for the opportunity to meet young filmmakers from Russia and learn more about what they are doing or, as Russians say, "what air they are breathing." [This] program affords such a chance to all New Yorkers.” 

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International Film Seminars, Inc. (IFS)/ Flaherty is a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide advancement and development of independent films, videos, and other movie-image arts by generating professional dialogue and insights into the art and content of the moving image, establishing education programs for youth and presenting innovative movie-image works at seminars, festivals, schools and universities. 

CEC ArtsLink, through a multi-faceted program of cultural exchange, serves to create and sustain constructive, mutually beneficial relationships in the arts between the United States and Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Working with artists, arts organizations and community-based groups, CEC ArtsLink provides an essential structure for ongoing dialogue, contributing to a culture of openness and trust between nations. 

Open World’s Cultural Leaders Program aims to forge better understanding between the United States and Russia by enabling emerging Russian leaders in the arts to experience America’s cultural and community life, and to work with their American counterparts. Support for the cultural program is provided through partnership and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress. Delegates range from judges to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. Over 11,000 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program’s inception in 1999. 

For more information about the visiting filmmakers, please visit www.cecartslink.org, or email chartblay@cecartslink.org. Advance copies of the films (DVD format) available for press reviewers upon request.