From December 15 — 19, the international Open Eurasian Literary Festival & Book Forum (OEBF) was held in Uzbekistan for the first time, bringing together participants from 15 countries of the world at the venues of Tashkent and Samarkand.
The Open Eurasian Literature Festival & Book Forum (OEBF), organized by the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) in cooperation with the British publishing house Hertfordshire Press, has become a meeting place for writers, poets, artists and other representatives of various fields of art for the tenth time. This year marks 10 years since the founding of the Open Eurasian Literary Festival & Book Forum, and for the same period it serves as a platform for building an intercultural dialogue between East and West, where creative people, cultural, educational and charitable organizations can exchange experiences. The festival has already been held in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Sweden, Belgium and the UK, and for the first time in its history, this year it was held in Uzbekistan. More than 130 participants (online and offline) from 15 countries of the world held 25 events together in sunny Tashkent and Samarkand for 5 days.
This anniversary event has become a symbol of the victory of art and the desire to create over the fear and confusion of the pandemic. According to the reviews of the absentee participants, they were very upset that they did not dare to take part offline. The festival began with a special closed meeting of the festival participants. Guests from countries such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Great Britain and Poland met in the picturesque gallery Human House — the official partner of the festival in Tashkent — to get acquainted with the festival program in more detail.
The highlight of the evening was the Christmas market, which the participants could visit at the Tashkent International School (TIS), a partner of the festival. The concert prepared by the schoolchildren, the fair and the Christmas atmosphere became an excellent preface for an informal private meeting-acquaintance “It’s great with friends”. There were warm sincere conversations with hot tea and traditional Uzbek food. Each guest was given the opportunity to tell about themselves and present their work, after which the participants went out in anticipation of the next day.
The working program of the second day, December 16, was held at the site of the festival partner Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace. An important event on the 2nd day of the festival and an excellent start to the program was the traditional annual presentation of new books published by Hertfordshire Press in 2021 and works by the winners of the “Open Eurasia” contest in 2020. During the presentation, the participants and guests of the festival were greeted by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kyrgyz Republic to Uzbekistan Ibragim Yunusov. The Ambassador attended this event to support the OEBF-2014 laureate Bubaysha Arstanbekova (Kyrgyzstan) and to emphasize the importance of publishing her book “Queen Kurmanjan of the mountains” about the legendary woman leader of the Kokand Khanate, Kurmanjan-datka. OEBF-2019 laureate Mikhail Kunitsky (Belarus) also presented his new book, published in London. His children’s book «Traveling on Four Feets» received very warm reviews from the participants and guests of the festival.
A young director and a student of the London Film Academy (LFA), Timur Akhmedjanov (Great Britain), presented the Russian-language edition of the comic book «Elish and the Wicker Tale«, based on the book by Azerbaijani writer Kamran Salayev, winner of the 2018 OEBF Maria Shevel Prize. This charity project, created to help children with autism, continues to be in demand and is spreading in other languages of the world.
Hertfordshire Press manager Aknur Nurtaza also presented a range of literary novelties.
- Annual literary almanac of the Eurasian Creative Guild «Thread 5«
- Daniel Ahmed (UK) — «The Final» charity comic
- Nick Rowan (UK) — «Silk road revisited«
- Gareth Stump (UK) — “The Egret and the Cow«, «The Goat that wanted to travel«
- Gulsifat Shakhidi (Tajikistan) — «Farkhod from Navghilem«
- Aldona Groupas (UK) — «A History of Lithuanian writers in the United Kingdom«
- Sergey Bely (Ukraine) — «Maestro and the Muse» / «Maestro and the Muse» in English and Russian
- Christopher Jones (Australia) — «Meet the‘ Stans «
- Farhat Tamendarov (Kazakhstan) — «Hunting Dogs«
- Poetic Almanac «Voices of Friends»
A bright event on the second day of the festival was the creative benefit performance of a special guest, a famous writer and a kind of “mascot” of the festival from the very first year of its holding — Janusz Leon Wisniewski (Poland). The author of a dozen bestsellers with a total circulation of more than 2,000,000 copies (and this is only in Russia) shared his invaluable experience and personal story of how a mature university professor got on the pages of Playboy and became one of the most widely read authors in Eastern Europe.
An incredible master class «How to allow yourself to create and help people see the results of their creativity?» Elena Bezrukova, the Ambassador of ECG (London) in Kazakhstan, Chairperson of the ECG Expert Council (London) for Business Coaching, PhD in Psychology, held for the festival participants. All participants were placed in non-standard conditions, from where everyone had to find a way out. The participants of the master class noted the incredible benefits and great pleasure from this process.
At the end of the working program of the 2nd day of the festival, a discussion was held on the topic «How to make the world a better place?» Executive Director of ECG (London) Tayna Kaunis and British publisher Marat (Mark) Akhmedjanov shared their successful experience in conducting crowdfunding campaigns related to creative and social projects. A separate topic was the presentation of development programs for the creative residence ECG HORIZONS Burabay, which began it’s work on the shore of Lake Shortankul (Shchuchye) of the Burabay (Borovoe) National Park in Northern Kazakhstan.
Despite such a rich program, all the guests were looking forward to the official Opening Ceremony of the festival, which took place on the evening of the same day, December 16, at the Tashkent International School. The floor for the opening ceremony was given to the Vice-Chairman of ECG (London) Marat Akhmedjanov, who told the history of the creation and development of the festival, and also emphasized the importance of such events for building cultural bridges between countries. Denise Woddingham, Director of the British Council for Culture in Uzbekistan, also greeted the participants of the festival. Then the guests were greeted by TIS Director Bill Kralovets and the festival’s guest of honor Janusz Leon Wisniewski. We would also like to note the support of the ceremony from the partners of the festival — the Sharaf Rashidov Foundation in the person of the chairman of the board Yakubov Iskander Sandzharovich and the chief consultant Muminov Kamal Musaevich. Within the framework of the opening ceremony, all official participants also spoke with a welcoming speech, presenting themselves and their projects. The guests of honor were representatives of the Embassies of Great Britain, Poland and Kyrgyzstan, Webster University, Sulzhina Irina Vladimirovna, coordinator of educational programs of the Rossotrudnichestvo office in the Republic of Uzbekistan, head of the Polish cultural center «Swietlica Polska» Oleg Skuridin, and others.
All guests of the ceremony were presented with a festive concert, which was opened by a young student of TIS, laureate of international competitions Sophie Singh Gill. Other wonderful performers and creative groups of Tashkent also took part in the concert: the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan (Rakhmonov Asatilla, Toshpulatov Sanobar, Makhmudjonova Maftuna, Kamolova Khulkaroi, Khabibullaeva Sevara), the Institute of Uzbek National Musical Art named after Yunus Rajabiibo Sabirova Iroda, Sodirboeva Nilufar, Azamova Dilnavoz, Turgunova Gulsanam), Polish Cultural Center “Swietlica Polska” (Denis Sotnikov).
The partner of the festival, the Courtyard by Marriott hotel (Tashkent), became the key venue for the third festival day on December 17. The working program was opened by the presentation of the film and projects of the Scientific Medical Society (NMO Kazakhstan), during which colleagues spoke about their unique experience of art therapy and creative projects designed to help children with oncology and their loved ones, and also explained why the research medical organization is so it is important to be a corporate member of ECG (London) and what opportunities this opens up for children and employees.
The highlight of the Tashkent program was the discussion of the festival participants and the press-conference on the topic “Cultural bridges”, where the main speakers were Marat Akhmedjanov, Elena Bosler-Guseva, Elena Bezrukova, Janush Wisniewski and Taina Kaunis. Within the framework of the conversation, such important issues as the reform of the Uzbek language and a decrease in the level of reading in different countries among readers under 35 years old were raised. The meaningful conversation did not leave any of the participants and spectators indifferent.
The Tashkent Film School for Youth “Focus School” invited Timur Akhmedjanov, a native of the city of Chirchik (Uzbekistan), from Great Britain, to share his experience of entering and studying at the prestigious London Film Academy.
At the end of the working program of the third day was held a creative lecture on the fine arts and a presentation of paintings by Yulia Ward and Elena Bezrukova. This creative event took place in the Human House gallery and gave the participants and guests of the festival an immersion in the creative process of the artist.
The majestic Samarkand received the delegates of the festival on December 18-19 with almost summer warmth and incredible architecture. The luxurious Bek Samarkand hotel, a partner of the festival, became the place where the most sacred part of the festival took place. The «Voices of Eurasia» marathon, traditionally held within the OEBF every year, brought together both full-time and correspondence festival participants and allowed them to read their works and tell a little about themselves.
The annual reporting meeting of the executive committee of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) was the traditional summing up of the year, as well as the announcement of the results of elections to the main bodies of the Guild for 2022.
So, according to the results of electronic voting, Gareth Stamp, UK, was elected as the Chairman of ECG (London) for 2022.
Based on the results of electronic voting and the decision of the ECG (London) Executive Committee, the following composition of the Advisory Board was elected:
Elena Aslanyan, Armenia
Aldona Grupas, UK
Anatoly Lobov, Georgia
Victoria Levin, Israel
Warren Wills, Australia
Elena Bezrukova, Kazakhstan
Azim Akmatov, Kyrgyzstan
Suria Esentaeva, Kazakhstan
Bakhtygul Makhanbetova, Kazakhstan
Anastasia Kuzmicheva, Belarus
Alina Moseikina, Cyprus
Marina Podlesnaya, Moldova
Jonathan Campion, UK
Oksana Zhukova, Crimea
Natalie Bays, UK
Election of the executive committees of the Expert Councils for 2022:
Poetry Expert Council
Chairman — Mikhail Ananov
Executive Committee — Victoria Levin, Sagyn Berkinalieva
Expert Council on Fiction
Chairman — Elena Aslanyan
Executive Committee — Aldona Groupas, Zhanna Shvydkaya
Visual Arts Expert Council
Chairman — Ekaterina Zgurskaya
Expert Council on translation
Chairman — Elena Bosler-Guseva
Executive Committee — Alina Moseikina, Jonathan Campion
Expert Council for Business Coaching
Chairman — Elena Bezrukova
Executive Committee — Marina Alyassova, Marat Akhmedjanov
Film Industry Expert Council
Chairman — Michael Sagatis
Expert Council on Journalism
Chairman — Oksana Zhukova
Independent Expert Council
Chairman — John Farndon
The evening ended with an enchanting Awarding Ceremony of the winners of the Open Eurasia international literary contest. In 2021, more than 1000 applications were submitted for the contest by participants from 53 countries of the world. The ceremony was traditionally chaired by Vice-Chairman of ECG (London) Marat Akhmedjanov.
The winners of the Open Eurasia 2021 contest in the “Prose” category:
1st place: Andrey Grodzinsky (Uzbekistan) — $ 7000 grant from Hertfordshire Press
The diploma for the first place was awarded to Andrei Grodzinsky by Janusz Wisniewski. He wished the author future creative successes.
The winners of the Open Eurasia-2021 competition in the «Minor Prose» category:
The Kazat Akmatov Prize
1st place: Inna Chaika (Italy) — Kazat Akmatov Prize ($ 3.000)
2nd place: Zulkhumar Kendjayeva (Uzbekistan)
The Kazat Akmatov Prize was solemnly presented by his son Azim Akmatov. He shared the history of the establishment of the award, as well as the important role that Kazat Akmatov played in the life of the Guild. The diploma for the second place was presented by Elena Bezrukova.
Winners of the Open Eurasia-2021 contest in the ”Poetry” category:
2nd place: Leon Nadine (Great Britain)
The award was established by the Guild Executive Committee in honor of the young and talented poet Artyom Dudnikov, Guild Ambassador in Moscow, a native of Uzbekistan, who died from COVID-19 in the spring of 2021. The prize was presented by Marat Akhmedjanov.
The winners of the Open Eurasia-2021 competition in the “Translation” category:
2nd place: Elena Bosler — Guseva (Kyrgyzstan)
3rd place: Perisat Abdalieva (Kyrgyzstan)
The prize was presented by the translator and longtime member of the Guild Dana Jeteyeva.
The winners of the Open Eurasia-2021 competition in the “Illustration” category:
1st place: Katerina Zgurskaya (Russia) — Prize “Vector. Poetry of strokes» from the association «BelBrand «($ 1,000)
2nd place: Marina Vernalis (Russia)
3rd place: Emilia Gojayeva (Azerbaijan)
The prize was presented by Timur Akhmedzhanov.
Open Eurasia 2020 winners in the “Non-fiction” category:
1st place: Victoria Levin (Israel) — Prize from OCA magazine ($ 1,000)
2nd place: Vera Sytnik (Russia)
Winners of the Open Eurasia-2020 competition in the “Children’s Literature” category:
1st place: Mikhail Kunitsky (Belarus) — I. Maria Shevel Prize ($ 5.000)
The third place was awarded by Vitalina Golovach, for the second place by Yulia Vard, for the first place — by Marat Akhmedjanov.
The winners of the Open Eurasia-2020 contest in the category “Best Female Work”:
1st place: Elena Bosler — Guseva (Kyrgyzstan) — prize named after Marziya Zakiryanova
2nd place: Victoria Nenya (Ukraine)
3rd place: Linda Small (Germany) and Julia Ganetskaya (Japan)
The award was presented by the executive director of the Guild Tayna Kaunis.
The Generals Prize from the International Association «Generals of Peace for Peace«, the highest award of the Association — the «Dove of Peace» medal for the best work dedicated to the theme of strengthening, peace, friendship and mutual understanding between peoples was received by the Bashkir satirist Masel Salimov (Russia).
The following laureates were awarded with certificates from the International Association «Generals of Peace for Peace»:
Vadim Kurashin (Kazakhstan)
Begizhan Akhmedov (Kyrgyzstan)
Lusine Aleksanyan (Armenia)
Natalia (Lina) Lee (Kazakhstan)
Muminova Dinara (South Korea)
Julia Olshevskaya-Hatzenboller (Germany)
Mayra Suleimenova (Kazakhstan)
Sergey Bely (Great Britain)
On December 19, an informal meeting with a special guest of the festival, Polish writer Janusz Leon Wiśniewski, took place in Tashkent on the basis of the Polish Cultural Center of Uzbekistan. Representatives of the Polish community were able to ask all their questions regarding creativity, migration, socialization and the creative path of the author.
In the evening, December 19, an unusual bar-library opened at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Marat Akhmedzhanov, Yanush Leon Vishnevsky, Aliaskar Fatkhullin, Tayna Kaunis and Timur Akhmedzhanov expressed their warm wishes to the hotel and its general manager Alexander Bakanov on behalf of the literary festival.
In the online format, the festival program included the following events:
On December 16, the winner of the Open Eurasian Literary Festival & Book Forum 2020 in the category «Children’s literature» Nelly Kopeikina held a presentation of her book «Contemporary Russian Fairy Tales»
On December 17, an online marathon “Voices of Eurasia” was held for all participants who could not join the festival in person.
On December 18, a meeting of the Eurasian Creative Guild’s Expert Council on Translations “Peculiarities of Translation of Children’s Literature” took place.
ECG (London) expresses special gratitude to the partners of the festival: Human House Gallery, Sharaf Rashidov Foundation, Courtyard by Marriott, Lotte City Hotel, Orient Star and Bek Samarkand, Tashkent International School, Swietlica Polska Polish Cultural Center, State Conservatory, Institute of Uzbek National Musical Art named after Yunus Rajabi and Shams Turon Trans Auto.
OEBF is the only literary festival in the world that, since 2012, has been promoting the literature of the Eurasian region at the international level. The festival provides an opportunity for authors to tell about their work, exchange experiences and find like-minded people from around the world to implement joint projects.
At the moment, submission period is open for the 11th literary competition «Open Eurasia-2022«.
Contacts: email@example.com / +44 7490 576010 (Anna Lari)
Eurasian Creative Guild (London) is a public organisation that promotes filmmakers, artists, poets, writers and designers. The main mission of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) is to instill a love of creativity, to give people the opportunity to touch the beauty, and, possibly, to reveal new facets of their creative nature.