The romantic populism of the “auteur” in modern film culture has long outlived its early Hollywood and European new wave beginnings. The significance of the director and her or his distinctive style continues to, justifiably or not, reign in every corner of cinephiliac society. Such an oversight of the collaborative process of film is a much contended topic. However the role of the cinematographer seems to be the lone exception. Although not receiving the populist, marketable attention the director often does, cinematographers are very often recognised for their artistic contributions to a director’s work. It’s not uncommon to hear of the creative love affair between a director and their longstanding director of photography, and in eastern Europe in recent years such collaborations have established the films of the new east as a significant artistic movement.
The fall of the Berlin Wall prompted a seismic cultural shift across the eastern bloc. To commemorate its 25th anniversary year, here are 25 of the best films produced in the new east since 1989. Whether coming-of-age tales, family dramas, or social commentaries, this list attests to the rich — and often overlooked — contribution that the region has made to cinema.