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Belarusian Independent Film Academy Launches to Support Local Creatives Facing State Repression, Official Rollout Planned at EFM (EXCLUSIVE)

Belarusian Independent Film Academy

A new independent film academy has launched out of Belarus to support the country’s independent artists.

The Belarusian Film Academy (BIFA) will officially launch during this month’s Berlin Film Festival, where an industry presentation will be made in partnership with the European Film Market.

The org has been set up in response to a “constant threat” of persecution, imprisonment and torture against independent artists living in Belarus, who are forced to leave the country in order to work without state repression. Belarus neighbors both Ukraine and Russia, and has supported Russia in its nearly year-long war against Ukraine. Belarus allowed Moscow to stage part of its invasion from Belarusian territory in February 2022, and has also enabled missiles to strike Ukraine from within its borders.

The founding members of the new academy include: Volia Chajkouskaya (producer, director, festival founder), Aliaksei Paluyan (film director), Darya Zhuk (film director), Irena Kaciałovič (film critic), Andrei Kutsila (documentary film director) and Igor Soukmanov (senior programmer and consultant).

A joint statement by the group reads: “The idea of creating an organization was born after the beginning of the war in Ukraine in 2022. More than 130 Belarusian filmmakers signed a collective statement on March 1 condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine at that time.

“Since then, we all continued to face challenges individually and felt that we should unite in solidarity to form a unified front. All this prompted us to create a legal structure that could speak on behalf of independent Belarusian filmmakers with one voice,” continues the statement.

On Feb. 17, the founders will detail plans for the org in Berlin, and set out the first slate of projects that are in the works. The event is held in cooperation and partnership with the EFM alongside other film orgs and academies, which will be represented at the event by EFM director Dennis Ruh, European Film Academy director Matthijs Wouter Knol and German Films managing director Simone Baumann.

The BIFA market stand is number 126, and will be located on the first floor of the Marriott hotel in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz.