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Eastern promises: Filmfestival Cottbus

Filmfestival Cottbus serves post-Soviet fare and comes loaded with movies about monkeys, writers and Soviet rock stars. On Nov 6-11 in Cottbus.

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Filmfestival Cottbus comes loaded with movies about monkeys, writers and Soviet rock stars.

Each autumn, compact Cottbus, just 70 minutes by regional train from Ostkreuz, temporarily transforms into an epicenter of Eastern and Central European film culture. This 28th edition of the revered fest will showcase around 200 new films across four competitions and 11 supplementary strands. It kicks off with Pawel Pawlikowski’s sumptuous Cannes smash Cold War, but as it hits German screens this month, your time would be better spent elsewhere (stay tuned for our interview). Among the 12 features duking it out for the coveted Best Feature award, Macedonian director Vladimir Blaževski’s Year of the Monkey (photo) is a sure crowd-pleaser. Suffused with melancholy and offbeat humour, this smart social satire sees a disgruntled former zookeeper become embroiled in a media frenzy after his friend Coco the chimpanzee escapes captivity. And from Serbia, Ognjen Glavonić’s The Load is a sparse, thriller-tinged road movie in which a truck driver becomes an unwitting participant in the Kosovo War. A Russian sidebar features Kirill Serebrennikov’s Cannes hit Leto, an exuberant evocation of the underground rock scene in 1980s Leningrad. And guests of honour include young Russian auteur Ivan I. Tverdovskiy, whose new film Jumpman is an unflinchingly cynical tale of a teen who feels no physical pain.

Nov 6-11 Various venues, filmfestivalcottbus.de