Our Favourite Films from the ‘New East’ Our Favourite Films from the ‘New East’
“Leviathan” by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Photo: Against Gravity/press materials

Our Favourite Films from the ‘New East’

Top 10 of the Decade
Carmen Gray
time 12 minutes

When it comes to cinema, the idea of a European ‘New East’ might just be a mirage. The term is often used in the Western media as a simple category to keep lumping post-communist countries together, as if they still have something distinctly in common. Perhaps they don’t, and do not wish to be forever cursed to be ‘not West’, an imaginary other defined in opposition. But no great cinema exists outside history, or the past’s legacy, even when its project is breaking free from tired limitations and labels, and transforming the world anew. In tribute to where the past decade has taken countries of the New East, or rather, where they have taken it, and their identities, creatively, we have compiled a list of 10 of the best films. These are 10 of the era’s best, from the region, sure, but from anywhere, full stop. So oppressive groupings or labels need not apply. Other strong examples of what these 10 films do so well also get special mentions.

All These Sleepless Nights  

If there’s any film of the last decade that embodied a young generation’s optimistic hope, it has to be Michał Marczak’s All These Sleepless Nights (2016), an intimate and fluid blend of documentary and fiction. “I Hear A New World”, a pop number by experimental trailblazer Joe Meek, sounds out as the camera glides across Warsaw’s night skyline, fireworks exploding around the Palace of Culture. As a gift from Stalin, the gargantuan building has been a symbol of oppression, but this opening


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To Give Back Love To Give Back Love
Bartosz Bielenia. Photo from the film “Corpus Christi”

To Give Back Love

An Interview with Bartosz Bielenia
Jan Pelczar

“We can do quite well in suffering; it’s a very comfortable condition,” Bartosz Bielenia says about his role as the character Daniel in Jan Komasa’s film Corpus Christi, Poland’s Oscar candidate. “Plunging into pain, into constant mourning and into never-ending tragedy can give you a lot of pleasure. Daniel tries to shake people out of this condition. He says: ‘Understand and forgive.’ That is – process it, forgive and let it go. He has a mechanism for it,” Bielenia tells Jan Pelczar.

Jan Pelczar: Daniel, the character you play in Corpus Christi, deceives people by pretending to be a priest, but he has inside him an openness that lets him do a lot of good. The audiences confirm it: we’d like to have that kind of priest.

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