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21 years ago, Astra Film Festival launched the competitive section dedicated to documentaries focusing on what is called the Eastern Bloc. The reason for its coming into existence is linked to Astra Film’s mission of promoting the production and forming an audience for non-fiction cinema in this part of Europe, where creative documentaries can and must play an important part in revealing the particular realities of this area after the collapse of communism. Two decades and one pandemic on, the original motivation behind the selection for this section still makes sense. Although its era allegedly ended 30 years ago, echoes of communism are ever so present in the said countries as they come through in stories masterfully told by documentary filmmakers. This year's selection paints a composite and intriguing picture of this exciting part of Europe. The films talk about past wars (Srebrenica, Belgrade bombing), and the conflicts of the present (Donbass); about political borders that amputate people's lives; about ghost industrial sites once at the core of community life, and the new oligarchs; about changing mentalities and attitudes towards the church, the LGBT, the environment and animal protection movements; and about the theory of an alledged predisposition of some peoples to totalitarianism.


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