XII Open Eurasian Literary Festival and Book Forum & III Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art

During September 25-30th 2023, four significant events were held in the resort area of Burabay, Kazakhstan: a festival of poetry and visual arts “III Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art,  a literary festival “XII Open Eurasian Literary Festival and Book Forum”, the “Burabay Film Festival of Social Cinema (II BISFF)” and the  “Discovery Travel Forum”, dedicated to the creative industries in tourism.

The festival is organised by the British non-profit organisation; the  Eurasian Creative Guild (London), with the support and participation from Rixos Borovoe, House by the Lake, Wyndham Garden Burabay, Park Hotel Kokshetau, Park House, as well as with volunteer and technical support from the Higher Pedagogical College of Shchuchinsk.

This year’s important event brought together more than 60 poets, prose writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers from 18 countries, becoming the largest ECG festival in the last three years and perhaps the largest in the history of the Burabay region. It was attended by delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Great Britain, Poland, Lithuania, Israel, Russia, Finland, Australia, Uzbekistan, USA, Georgia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Pakistan, Germany and Belarus. The festival is being held in Kazakhstan for the third time, and with each time the participants return home with fond memories, and evidently they return to the festival the following year.

The festival program started in the city of Schuchinsk, at the site of the creative residence ECG HORIZONS Burabay. On Monday, September 25, an introductory meeting was held for festival participants, where guests were able to learn more about the busy program of the festival period.

The next day, the program was immediately launched – this year it included more than 25 personal presentations, an art exhibition, an art performance, the traditional creative marathon “Voices of Eurasia”, screenings of seven films and several panel discussions with their directors, the “Blue Diamonds of Eurasia” assembly and other significant events.

The official opening ceremony took place on September 26th at the Rixos Borovoe hotel. First, guests were treated to the opening of the Art Exhibition. ECG Executive Director Taina Kaunis addressed the guests with a welcoming speech, then wonderful artists from Russia – Katerina Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Kalinovskaya presented their works. Two absentee participants of the exhibition were introduced by their colleagues – the writer from Uzbekistan Andrey Grodzinsky spoke about his experience of working with Yulia Ward (USA), and Sergei Babyakov from Almaty was presented by Almaty resident Elena Bezrukova, a business coach and graphic artist. After the opening of the exhibition, Anastasia Kalinovskaya held an art performance “Graphics in one gesture” for festival guests and spectators from the hotel.

For the official opening of the festival, the floor was handed over to ECG Vice-Chairman Marat Akhmedjanov, who greeted the participants. Also speaking at the ceremony were the deputy of the maslikhat of the Burabay region Olesya Baimova and the Chairman of the international non-governmental organization “World Union of Cossack Atamans”, Supreme Cossack Yuri Zakharov.

After the opening, the delegates returned to the sites of the Lake House and Park Hotel Kokshetau hotels, where most of the speakers’ performances took place during the festival, and which became a kind of creative hub for the festival period.

The key event of the competition program – the Voices of Eurasia marathon – took place on September 27th at the House by the Lake hotel. The event was moderated by Anna Lari, director of the festivals department and co-founder of ECG. Each delegate introduced himself and shared his creative products with colleagues, and colleagues evaluated the performances and works of the participants, adding shares of points, which became decisive for some competitors.

After the marathon, the festival participants moved to the creative residence ECG HORIZONS Burabay, where the flags of Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Israel and, for the first time, Armenia were solemnly raised (the tradition of raising the flags of the countries participating in the festival was started last year, when the flags of Russia, Belarus, Wales, as well as the personal flag of Hélène Corot). The ceremonial raising of the flags was followed by the unveiling of a new plaque on the Remembrance Wall, located in the residence and designed to preserve the memory of deceased members of the Guild or people who had a strong influence on their work. This year, the ECG Executive Committee opened a plaque in memory of the Guardian of the Guild who passed away last year – the beautiful girl and writer Torgyn Zholdasbekkyzy. Literary agent Baktygul Makhanbetova gave a speech in memory of her, moving those present to tears.

There, at the residence, a presentation of a unique project to create the first comic book museum dedicated to the theme of autism and inclusion “Elish and Superheroes” took place. This charitable project will become one of the flagship projects for the Guild in 2023-2024. All guests were able to deeply immerse themselves in the concept of the future museum, and some delegates made charitable contributions directly at the presentation.

The busiest and most active festival day was September 28th, where three events took place in the first half of the day. The hospitable assembly hall of the Higher Pedagogical College in Shchuchinsk became a platform for showing the festival films of the program and holding panel discussions with their directors. The moderator was British director and illustrator Timur Akhmedjhanov. Thus, viewers were able to personally communicate with British directors Soheil Lawn and Carrie-Anne Kendall, as well as with the winner of the Eurasian Film Festival in London, Kazakh director Zhorabek Musabaev.

The House by the Lake hotel brought together participants of the Discovery Travel Forum, experts in the field of tourism and creative industries from Poland, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and the USA at a round table – a discussion on the issues of tourism development in the Burabay region and presentations by experts from Kyrgyzstan, Marina Bashmanova and from the USA, Andrew Wachtel did not leave indifferent, and emphasized the impact of the meeting on rethinking key aspects of doing business.

The final presentations of the speakers took place at the Park Hotel Kokshetau, as well as the third annual assembly “Blue Diamonds of Eurasia” of participants in a special issue of OCA Magazine – OCA People, which annually publishes 40 interviews with significant figures in the culture and art of Eurasia.

The culmination and most anticipated event was undoubtedly the Award Ceremony of the festival and competition “Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art” and the festival-competition “XII Open Eurasia: Super Cup 2023”, which was held this year in a unique format: the best of the best are the finalists of previous years. The following is a list of winners.

Winners of the “XII Open Eurasia: Super Cup 2023”:

The winners in the Prose category were:

1st place – Lusine Aleksanyan (Armenia)

2nd place – Murat Uali (Kazakhstan)

3rd place – Sergey Listvin (Lithuania) and Olga Shpakovich (Russia)

The winners in the “Short Prose” category were:

1st place – Nurlan Toksanov (Kazakhstan)

2nd place – Nina Yagolnitser (Israel)

3rd place – Rimma Ulchina (Israel)

In the “Non-Fiction” category the winners were:

1st place – Marcel Salimov (Russia)

2nd place – Lyudmila Voevodina (Lithuania)

3rd place – Irina Sapir (Israel)

The winners in the “Children’s Prose” category were:

1st place – Marina Alyasova (Kazakhstan)

2nd place – Lyubov Mosley (USA) and Afsana Lachin (Azerbaijan)

3rd place – Vitaly Lozovich (Russia)

The winners in the “Translation” category were:

1st place – Bakhtygul Makhanbetova (Kazakhstan)

2nd place – Oleg Kunitsky (Belarus)

3rd place – Yesenzhan Abubakirov (Kyrgyzstan)

Winners of the “Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art” competition:

In the category “Poetry”:

1st place – Andrey Grodzinsky (Uzbekistan)

2nd place – Elena Makarova (Uzbekistan)

3rd place – Alexander Kazarnovsky (Israel) and Gennady Gorovoy (Israel)

Winners in the Painting category:

1st place – Sergey Babyakov (Kazakhstan)

2nd place – Anastasia Kalinovskaya (Russia)

3rd place – Raisa Belenkaya (Great Britain) and Larisa Pak (Kyrgyzstan)

Winners in the Illustration category:

1st place – Andrey Gurgish (Kazakhstan)

2nd place – Oksana Gordiiko (Ukraine)

3rd place – Anton Farutin (Russia)

Winners in the Photography category:

1st place – Maria Muchinskaya (Belarus)

2nd place – Tatyana Ivanova (Bulgaria)

3rd place – Maria Priznyakova (Russia)

Having gained the largest number of views on the ECG Youtube channel, poetess Elvira Zhusupbekova will be published in the anthology Voices of Friends: Poetry & Art, as part of the Audience Choice Award.

Awards were found not only for the winners of the competition. The delegates’ contributions were recognized with medals. Thus, the son of the Kyrgyz classic Kazat Akmatov, Azim Akmatov, presented medals donated by Askar Aitmatov, the son of the legend of the literary world of Eurasia and Kyrgyzstan – Chingiz Aitmatov. The medal was established in honor of the writer’s 95th birthday.

Medals from the Chingiz Aitmatov Issyk-Kul Forum Foundation were awarded to:

Theatre producer, composer: Warren Wills (Australia)

Journalist and writer:  Kuchkar Narkabilov (Uzbekistan)

Artist and public figure: Natalie Bays (United Kingdom)

And the head of the Polish-British organisation “Poezja London”; Adam Semeniuk, presented medals named after Barbara Yurkowska-Nawrocka:

  • Medals named after Barbara Yurkovska-Nawrocka were received by:
  • Elena Bezrukova (Kazakhstan)
  • Mikhail Kunitsky Belarus)
  • Lenar Shaekh (Russia-Republic of Tatarstan)
  • Raza Syed (UK)
  • Daria Belkina (Kazakhstan)
  • Clara Kabylgazina (Kazakhstan)
  • Paulina Gable – Kravets (Israel)
  • Saltanat Khamzeeva (Kazakhstan)
  • Shamsia Zhubatova (Kazakhstan)
  • Munaydar Balmolda (Kazakhstan)
  • Andrey Grodzinsky (Uzbekistan)
  • Anna Lari (Great Britain)
  • Temirbek Dzholdobaev (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Natalya Korshun (Russia)
  • Marcel Salimov (Russia-Republic of Bashkortostan)
  • Lara Prodan (USA)
  • Olga Egorova (Russia)
  • Dilorom Nishanova (USA)
  • Aizharkyn Kozhabekova (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Asel Ayapova (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Vlada Vityazeva (Georgia)
  • Indira Laktaeva (USA)
  • Marina Bashmanova (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Bayangaly Alimzhanov (Kazakhstan)
  • Katerina Kudryavtseva (Russia)

Certificates named after Barbara Yurkovska-Nawrocka were received by:

  • Tigran Afyan
  • Marat Akhmedjhanov
  • Sanzhar Dusenov

Deputy Akim of Burabay District Zhangeldy Meiramuly Tulegenov addressed the festival participants with a welcoming speech.

As part of the ceremony, Svetlana Yudina and Saltanat Khamzeeva were accepted with honors into the highest governing body of ECG – the Council of Guardians, and Kuralay Avutova, the founder and author of the women’s educational program Inspire, was elevated to the rank of ambassador. The gala evening ended with a music room from Warren Wills.

The next day, September 29th, foreign guests were able to immerse themselves in the Kazakh national flavor. At the site of the ECG HORIZONS residence there was a presentation of the world of Kazakh literature moderated by Baktygul Makhanbetova, a presentation of the public organization “Novis” and the creative community of the Burabay region. Next, a real celebration awaited the guests: a member of the Council of Guardians from Israel, Alexander Kazarnovsky, immersed everyone present in the incredible atmosphere of celebrating the Jubilee of the future – the Jewish national tradition of Sukkot. In the evening, guests were treated to a Gala concert, where they were inspired by the work of journalist, singer and producer Marina Bashmanova (Kyrgyzstan), composer Warren Wills (Australia) and the vocal and choreographic ensemble “Zvonnitsa-Heritage” (Petropavlovsk).

On September 30th, the closing ceremony of the second international film festival BISFF took place. The festival ended with a screening of the film “Heavenly Team” by Belarusian director Vladimir Alenikov at the site of the festival’s partner in the village of Burabay – the Wyndham Garden Burabay hotel. The audience enjoyed not only the film, but also the new location. The winner of the Cannes Festival, the living legend of Polish cinema Krzysztof Pus Zanussi and the British director, jury member of many international festivals Ovidio Salazar sent their greetings

The wonderful final chord that summed up the entire festival was the grand opening of the mural on the Memory Wall of the ECG HORIZONS (Burabay) residence by the British Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan Casey Leach. Madam Ambassador noted the importance of holding such events and wished the participants further success. The mural was created during the festival by wonderful British artists Natalie Bays, Charlotte Trover, Kerry-Ann Kendall and Hannah Davis. As Natalie Beis, head of the delegation and head of the public organization NO Collective, emphasized during the presentation, the idea of the mural was to demonstrate the unifying power of Eurasia. Thus, milk tea is both a very British and a very Central Asian drink, the depicted tea set is decorated with national patterns of different countries, and the night sky is located behind the composition. “Wherever we are, we should remember that we are all looking at the same stars,” she concluded her speech. All participants in the ceremony, including Madam Ambassador, left their “star” in the night sky of the mural.

ECG thanks the general partners of the festival: hotels Rixos Borovoe, House by the Lake, Wyndham Garden Burabay, Park Hotel Kokshetau, Park House Kokshetau, as well as the Higher Pedagogical College of Shchuchinsk. Special thanks are expressed to the volunteer team of the city of Shchuchinsk and the village. Burabay and Central Asian Book Publishing House.

Over the 12 years of holding festivals, the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) has united more than 11,000 participants from 83 countries, becoming the largest and most prestigious platform for promoting the creativity of figures from Eurasian countries. In 2024, festivals are planned in the UK, Israel, Serbia and Kazakhstan. Follow our posts on social media. networks.

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