From 13th to 17th November, the eighth Open Eurasian Literary Festival and Book Forum (OEBF 2019) was held in Brussels (Belgium). Open Eurasia is an international initiative that for the eighth year brings together creative people from all over the world – writers, poets, translators, artists and other talented people. This year, festival guests represented more than 25 countries. Organised by the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) and the British publishing house Hertfordshire Press, the Festival teamed up with AidEx – to create an exhibition on a mutual platform to bring attention to humanitarian issues currently affecting most post-soviet countries.
The Open Eurasian Literature Festival & Book Forum (OEBF) is the only annual literary festival in the world to promote Eurasian literature internationally. As a cultural bridge between East and West, this unique event provides an opportunity for authors and artists to talk about their work, share experiences and find like-minded people from different countries with whom to implement joint projects. The program for the OEBF Festival 2019 in Brussels was intensive, and consisted of many different events, including book presentations, exhibitions and seminars for writers and artists by experts in the fields of literature, publishing and communication.
On 13th of November, an exhibition of ECG London artists was held at the Brussels Expo and the R. Hubbard Museum. The works of the following artists were successfully presented at the exhibition: Olesya Shibaeva (Moldova), Gulzada Hamra (Kyrgyzstan), Emil Guzairov (Russia), Ravil Abdulov(Kazakhstan) Akhmetzhan Akhatbakiev (Kazakhstan) and “Peaks of Asia” (Almagul Yesimova, AbayChunchalinov, Elena Fursa, Bakytnur Burdesbekov, Asia Bekisheva, Adilgali Bayandin, SmakovaBibigul from Kazakhstan and Laura Pak from Kyrgyzstan). This year, the opening ceremony of the festival was dedicated to the 175th anniversary of Abay and was held on November 14th at the Brussels Expocenter, where the following speakers made a welcoming speech and shared their thoughts on the contribution of Abay Kunanbayev’s work to world literature: Johnathan Fryer (British historian, researcher), Marat Akhmedjanov (vice-president of ECG London) and Begizhan Akhmedov (writer from Kyrgyzstan), who solemnly presented Marat Akhmedjanov with the Order of Honor and Courage Fund (Russia) and presented his book “The Wanderer”.
Honorary guests spoke at the opening ceremony: Ambassador of Tajikistan Erkinkhon Rahmatullozoda, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Mukhtar Dzhumaliev and Counselor-Envoy of the Embassy of Kazakhstan – Erbolat Sembaev. On behalf of the organizer of the exhibition AIDEX, Peter Lindsay gave a speech and he also conducted a tour of AIDEX. On the same day, there was a panel discussion dedicated to the work of the great writer Chingiz Aitmatov and the influence of Abay’s heritage on world literature.
The report “Oscar Wilde in Central Asia – drawing a parallel between the work of Wilde and Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov (1928-2008)” was made by the British researcher Jonathan Fryer. The panel discussion participants included: a literary agent – Bakhtygul Makhanbetova, a scientist – Dandai Yskakuly, and a translator – Nurym Taibek from Kazakhstan. On November 15th, the presentation of the third “ECG-2019 Book Series” was held by Angelina Krasnogir, manager of the Hertfordshire Press publishing house. The following books published in London were presented at the presentation: Vladimir Tulinov, “Guardsmen of Hippocrates” (Belarus), Kanybek Imanaliev, “Kaganat” (Kyrgyzstan), Alfred Engalychev, “And God Give Me …” (Kyrgyzstan) and the collection “Thread” -3 ”, which was presented by one of the authors of the collection – Aya Maksutova (Kazakhstan).
One of the most striking events of the festival was the presentation of books by the winners of the Open Eurasia 2018 competition published through grants awarded to the winners: 1. “Lost Paradise – Real Paradise”, Gulsifat Shahidi (Tajikistan) with Stephen Bland – Best Translation 2018 2. “Sofya’s heaven or the magic gift of the dwarves” Oksana Gordiyko (Poland-Ukraine) – 2018 Nemat Kelimbetov Prize 3. “Mouse Leia” Arina Chunaeva (Russia) with Stephen Bland and Mariola Fedarchuk (Great Britain) – Maria Shevel Prize 2018 4. “Poems about boys” Lyudmila Dubkovetskaya (Moldova) with John Farndon and Stephen Bland (Great Britain) – 2018 Marzia Zakiryanova Prize.
Presentations of the following speakers took place on the same day: 1. Alan Flowers (Great Britain), who presented a book dedicated to Belarusian classics – “Celebration of Vera Rich’s life and work”. The presentation was attended by a representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus – Julia Lyashuk. 2. Poetess Josephine (Berkinaliev Sagynbubu) from Kyrgyzstan, presenting her book “Girl dancing in the sky” 3. Jonathan Farndon (UK) 4. Nurym Taybek (Great Britain) editor of “Russian Service”, “The Muslim community of Ahmadis around the world” with lectures on the topic: The Rational Religion Initiative to unite humanity into one family in order to save it from war and self-destruction On November 16th, the official part of the festival took place! A literary marathon “Voices of Eurasia” lasted more than 6 hours, during which 50 finalists of the competition and guests of “Open Eurasia-2019” presented their entries. On the same day, the annual meeting of the Council of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) took place. As a result of the vote, a new chairman of the Guild, John Farndon (Great Britain), was elected.
The new composition of the Advisory Board and the composition of the new Council of the Guild Guardians were approved. (lists in the appendix) The literary part of the festival was completed by the following book presentations and workshops: 1. Keanu Reeves: unfinished portrait. Part 1″. Author: Evgenia Sihimbaeva (Kazakhstan) 2. Stephen M. Bland. Prize laureate, author and journalist Stephen M. Bland delivered a speech entitled “Dictators, Desolation and Dadaism: From the Uzbek Desert of Forbidden Art to the Forgotten Peoples of Armenia” 3. “The Silk Road Revisited”, a new photograph and history book was presented by Nick Rowan, editor-in-chief of OCA magazine (London). 4. Visual master class by Emil Guzairov – writer, architect, designer from Russia.
The workshop “Unusual books, beech art and book architecture” taught attendees how to interest the public in an unusual presentation of the book. 5. Master class from Elena Bezrukova (Kazakhstan) on the topic: “Communication training for creative people.” The purpose of the workshop was to identify resources for the presentation of their creative abilities to the world. In the evening, the main event of the festival was a gala dinner and an award ceremony for the winners of the Open Eurasia 2019 contest.
The ceremony began with the presentation of a painting by Kazakh artist Bibigul Smakova as a gift to the R. Hubbard Museum in Brussels. The total prize pool in 2019 was $ 31,000. The main prizes of the competition are grants that will be used to publish the book of winners in London or to pay for trips to the OEBF 2020 festival. In 2019, more than 1200 applications from over 30 countries of the world were submitted to the competition. PROSE CATEGORY: 1st place: Ion Zhani (Russia) – $ 5000 grant from Hertfordshire Press 2nd place: Aydin Shem (Russia) 3rd place: Alexander Chigolsky (Belarus) and TemirbekDzholdobaev (Kyrgyzstan) At the award ceremony, it was announced that the medal of Henryk Sienkiewicz was awarded to the winner of the Open Eurasia 2017 contest – Sultan Raev (Kyrgyzstan).
CATEGORY SHORT PROSE: 1st place: Torgyn Zholdasbekgizy (Kazakhstan) grant $ 1000 from Hertfordshire Press 2nd place: Klara Kabylgazina (Kazakhstan) 3rd place: Kenja Navoi (Uzbekistan) and Marina Markina(Russia) CATEGORY OF POETRY: 1st place: Ekaterina Khlebnikova (Russia) award “Song of the Moth” from the studio of Ermek Amanshaev ($ 2000) 1st place: Josephine (Berkinalieva Sagynbubu) – Kyrgyzstan, prize / medal “Lira” ($ 1000) 2nd place: Banu Esengeldi (Germany / Kazakhstan) 3rd place: Valery Terkin (Russia) and Svetlana Razmyslovich(Russia) CATEGORY PUBLICITY: 1st place: Cordelia Buchanan Poncek (Poland) Lev Gumilyov Prize from OCA Magazine ($ 3000) 2nd place: Katerina Gladkaya (Ukraine) 3rd place: Sofia Timurovna (Slovakia) and AkylbekDzhumanaliev (Kyrgyzstan) A special prize for best literary criticism was awarded to Gulsifat Shahidi (Tajikistan).
CATEGORY BEST CHILDREN’S WORKS: 1st place: Hope Silver (USA) Maria Shevel Prize ($ 5000) 2nd place: Mikhail Kunitsky (Belarus) 3rd place: Dina Oraz (Kazakhstan) and Zaure Turekhanova(Kazakhstan) CATEGORY BEST WOMEN’S AUTHOR: 1st place: Zhanna Golubitskaya (Russia) Marzia Zakiriyanova Prize ($ 5000) 2nd place: Aldona Groupas (Great Britain / Lithuania) 3rd place: Dilorom Nishanova (Uzbekistan / USA) CATEGORY VIDEO: 1st place: not awarded (Nemat Kelimbetov Prize) 2nd place: Platinum (Russia) 3rd place: Helen Rush (Great Britain / Latvia) and Andrey Yesaulov (Russia) TRANSLATION CATEGORY: 1st place: Simon Hollinshire (Great Britain) Irina Bustard Prize ($ 1000) 1st place: Maria Kevaeva (Russia), “BelRos” prize from Oleg Nesterkov ($ 1000) 2nd place: Luche (Israel) 3rd place: Olga Marusina (Belgium) and Alena Filippova(Russia)
CATEGORY ILLUSTRATION: 1st place: Abishev Nurlan (Kazakhstan) Live Line Prize from Adam Kapanov ($ 2000) 2nd place: Igor Barbov (Russia) and Alexander Batykov(Uzbekistan) 3rd place: Aliya Temuriyzoda (Uzbekistan)
ADDITIONAL AWARDS: The Prize of Generals from the International Association of Peace Generals for Peace, the highest award of the Association – the dove of peace medal for the best work on topics of strengthening, peace, friendship and mutual understanding between peoples was received by: Lenar Shaekhov (Tatarstan / Russia) Certificates “Generals of the world for peace” were issued to the following laureates: Ksenia Kirillova (USA) Alexandra Taan (Russia) Dandai Yskakuli (Kazakhstan) Bayangali Alimzhanov (Kazakhstan) Elena Aslanyan (Armenia) Lyudmila Blokhina (Russia) Mikhail Ananov (Georgia) Dana Zheteeva (Kazakhstan) Ahmet Ahat (Kazakhstan) Yufim Sanya (Russia)