Azerbaijani cinema in the spotlight at the ‘Europe Around Europe’ film festival
Press Release: On 17 March, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) in France organised a screening as part of the ninth annual L’Europe autour de l’Europe film festival – the third collaboration between TEAS and the festival. Shown at the Studio des Ursulines in Paris, 80 cinephiles enjoyed two short films – Vagif Mustafayev’s All for the Best and Elmar Imanov’s The Swing of the Coffin Maker.
Irena Bilic, founder of the festival, opened the screening with a word of thanks for TEAS. Vagif Mustafayev, one of the great names of Azerbaijani cinema, directed the multiple award-winning All for the Best. This unique, yet universal story unfolds during the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The director met the bold challenge of addressing a serious subject with humour. This film was awarded the special prize by the international jury at the 44th Oberhausen Short Film Festival for his contribution to peace and humour.
The Swing of the Coffin Maker – by the young and talented German–Azerbaijani director, Elmar Imanov – addresses the difficult relationship between a father and his mentally-handicapped son. Elmar was born in Azerbaijan, but has resided in Germany since the age of 13 years. To date, his film has achieved the bronze medal in the Student Academy Awards (the Students’ Oscars) in 2012 and, more recently, the grand prize in the European Short Film Festival in Brest.
The screening was followed by a debate between viewers and Elmar Imanov about the making of the film, how the locations and actors were selected, and the complex character of the father. He explained he had adopted a Bergmanian approach to the father, whose personality was inspired by that of the coffin maker in Chekhov’s Rothschild’s Fiddle. Elmar said that the selection of Azerbaijan as the location resulted in a subtle blend between styles and cultures.
The reception after the screening provided further opportunities for informal discussions on both films.