Success at the Tenth Open Eurasia Literary Festival & Book Forum
From 15 – 19 December 2021, the international Open Eurasian Literary Festival & Book Forum (OEBF) was held in Uzbekistan for the first time, bringing together participants from 15 countries at venues of Tashkent and Samarkand.
The Open Eurasian Literature Festival & Book Forum (OEBF), organised 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 organisations 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 face-to-face) from 15 countries of the world held 25 events together in sunny Tashkent and Samarkand over 5 days.
This annual event has become a symbol of the victory of art and the desire to create over the fear and confusion of the pandemic. The festival began with a special closed meeting of festival participants. Guests from countries including 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 participants visited at the Tashkent International School (TIS), a partner of the festival. The concert prepared by the schoolchildren, the fair and the Christmas atmosphere were an excellent preface for an informal get together among friends, old and new. There were warm and sincere conversations with hot tea and traditional Uzbek food. Each guest was given the opportunity to explain a little bit about themselves and present their work.
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 second 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 from 2020. During the presentation, participants and guests 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 emphasise 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 Feet” 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 his 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.
- The 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 highlight of the second day was the creative performance of a special guest – a famous writer and “mascot” of the festival from the very first year – 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 titled, “How to allow yourself to create and help people see the results of their creativity?” was given Elena Bezrukova, the Ambassador of ECG (London) in Kazakhstan, and Chairperson of the ECG Expert Council (London) for Business Coaching. All participants were placed in unusual conditions, from where everyone had to find a way out. The participants of the master class noted the incredible benefits and great pleasure derived 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 its 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 recounted the history of the creation and development of the festival, and also emphasised the importance of such events for building cultural bridges between countries. Denise Woddingham, Director of the British Council for Culture in Uzbekistan, also welcomed participants. Then the guests were greeted by TIS Director Bill Kralovets and the festival’s guest of honour Janusz Leon Wisniewski. Of note was the support of the ceremony by the partners of the festival – the Sharaf Rashidov Foundation represented by 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 other guests of honour were representatives of the Embassies of Great Britain, Poland and Kyrgyzstan, Webster University, Sulzhina Irina Vladimirovna, co-ordinator of educational programs of the Rossotrudnichestvo office in the Republic of Uzbekistan, head of the Polish cultural centre “Swietlica Polska” Oleg Skuridin, and others.
A festive concert was also held, which was opened by a young student of TIS, and 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).
Festival partner, 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 film projects by 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. It was also explained why the research medical organisation find it so 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 a discussion 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. Important issues such 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 Tashkent Film School for Youth, “Focus School”, invited Timur Akhmedjanov, originally 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 a creative lecture on the fine arts and a presentation of paintings by Yulia Ward and Elena Bezrukova was held. 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.
Majestic Samarkand received festival delegates between 18-19 December with an 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 festival participants and allowed them to read their works and explain 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.
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 Awards 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. As is tradition, the ceremony was 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 many 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 at the Polish Cultural Centre of Uzbekistan. Representatives of the Polish community were able to ask all their questions regarding creativity, migration, socialisation and the creative path of the author.
In the evening, 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 16 December, 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 17 December, an online marathon “Voices of Eurasia” was held for all participants who could not join the festival in person.
On 18 December, 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 Centre, 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 an international level. The festival provides an opportunity for authors to promote 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: firstname.lastname@example.org / +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 instil a love of creativity, to give people the opportunity to touch the beauty, and reveal new facets of their creative nature.
List of authors / speakers / guests:
Shavkat Abdulaev (Uzbekistan)
Dilrabo Abdurashidova (Uzbekistan)
Dilnavoz Azamova (Uzbekistan)
Khilola Aziz-Karieva (Uzbekistan)
Azim Akmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
Alexander Kazarnovsky (Israel)
Nargiza Alikulova (Uzbekistan)
Bubaysha Arstanbekova (Kyrgyzstan)
Timur Akhmedzhanov (Great Britain)
Adelya Akhmedzhanova (Uzbekistan)
Venera Akhmedzhanova (Uzbekistan)
Svetlana Balakina (Uzbekistan)
Nurgul Bektenbaeva (Uzbekistan)
Asal Berezkina (Uzbekistan)
Rohatov Boltaeva (Uzbekistan)
Boris Babaev (Uzbekistan)
Elena Bosler-Guseva (Kyrgyzstan)
André Bouzid (Italy)
Julia Ward (Kazakhstan)
Alexander Vasiliev (Uzbekistan)
Maria Vdovyak (Uzbekistan)
Janusz Leon Vishnevsky (Poland)
Nadezhda Voronova (Uzbekistan)
Vitalina Golovach (Belarus)
Andrey Grodzinsky (Uzbekistan)
Alexander Gusev (Kyrgyzstan)
Andrey Gusev (Kyrgyzstan)
Dr. John Granger (USA)
Danata Davronova (Uzbekistan)
Narpulat Jumaev (Uzbekistan)
Nurlan Dzhumaliev (Uzbekistan)
Alijon Juraev (Uzbekistan)
Assura Dikanbaeva (Uzbekistan)
Erkinjon Dushanov (Uzbekistan)
Umriniso Dushanova (Uzbekistan)
Elbek Nazarov (Uzbekistan)
Nurkon Elmirzaeva (Uzbekistan)
Dana Jeteyeva (Kazakhstan)
Elina Zakharchenko (Ukraine)
Malikahon Ziyaeva (Uzbekistan)
Boris Zovulov (Uzbekistan)
Khulkaroi Kamolova (Uzbekistan)
Dmitry Karabutov (Kazakhstan)
Ilkhom Kenjaev (Uzbekistan)
Zulkhumar Kenjaeva (Uzbekistan)
Zhibek Koblanova (Uzbekistan)
Khilola Kozubaeva (Uzbekistan)
Mikhail Kunitsky (Belarus)
Dilara Lindsay (Kazakhstan)
Galina Lisanskaya (Uzbekistan)
Maxim Lisenko (Uzbekistan)
Svetlana Lonchar (Uzbekistan)
Andrey Lopatin (Uzbekistan)
Marat Akhmedzhanov (Uzbekistan)
Massimiliano Marcy (UK)
Emma Marcy (UK)
Zarnigor Makharova (Uzbekistan)
Maftuna Makhmudjonova (Uzbekistan)
Farangiz Makhmudova (Uzbekistan)
Kamal Muminov (Uzbekistan)
Maria Musakova (Uzbekistan)
Elena Bezrukova (Kazakhstan)
Evgeniya Mustafina (Uzbekistan)
Maria Muchinskaya (Belarus)
Nozliya Normurodova (Uzbekistan)
Shoira Oripova (Uzbekistan)
Olga Pekhteleva (Uzbekistan)
Tolkun Pulatov (Uzbekistan)
Asatilla Rakhmonov (Uzbekistan)
Sevara Rashidova (Uzbekistan)
Rimma Sabirjanova (Uzbekistan)
Nasiba Satyboldieva (Uzbekistan)
Danil Sditanov (Uzbekistan)
Oleg Skuridin (Uzbekistan)
Iroda Sobirova (Uzbekistan)
Nilufar Sodyrboeva (Uzbekistan)
Denis Sotnikov (Uzbekistan)
Mayra Suleimenova (Kazakhstan)
Irina Sulzhina (Uzbekistan)
Aisulu Tastanova (Uzbekistan)
James Thomas (USA)
Sanobar Toshpulatov (Uzbekistan)
Gulsanam Turgunova (Uzbekistan)
Elvira Tukhvatulina (Uzbekistan)
Maria Uglitskikh (Uzbekistan)
Ruben Fatkhullin (Uzbekistan)
Aliaskar Fatkhullin (Uzbekistan)
Sevara Khabibullaeva (Uzbekistan)
Rushana Khalilova (Uzbekistan)
Nilufar Khamdamova (Uzbekistan)
Aziza Khodzhaeva (Uzbekistan)
Keldiyor Khujayorov (Uzbekistan)
Yusufali Khuzhakulov (Uzbekistan)
Marina Tsareva (Uzbekistan)
Inna Chaika (Great Britain, Italy)
Olga Chirkova (Uzbekistan)
Amal Nadim Shah (Uzbekistan)
Taina Kaunis (Finland, Russia)
Malik Sherbutaev (Uzbekistan)
Marina Shkrobova (Vernalis) (Russia)
Helene Koro (Russia)
Karina Yudina (Uzbekistan)
Etibar Yagubov (Uzbekistan)
Anna Larry (UK, Russia)
Victoria Malyushitskaya (Belarus)
Sabina Abdybachaeva (Kyrgyzstan)
Aknur Nurtaza (Kazakhstan)
Nelly Kopeikina (Russia)
Adolina Gordon (Germany)
Alex Garlev (USA)
Gareth Stump (UK)
Alina Moseikina (Cyprus)
Marina Podlesnaya (Moldova)
Olesya Zaitseva (Russia)
Anatoly Lobov (Georgia)
Mikhail Ananov (Georgia)
Khalida Akhmedzhanova (Crimea)
Saira Seit (Kyrgyzstan)
Elena Ananyeva (Germany)
Ariadn Miriadov (Russia)
Irina Zmanovskaya (Russia)
Valentina Boovan Kuukan (Russia)
Dhananjaya Shrestha (Nepal)
Tatiana Lebedeva (Russia)
Victoria Nenya (Ukraine)
Linda Small (Germany)
Nick Rowan (UK)
Gulsifat Shahidi (Tajikistan)
Aldona Groupas (UK)
Sergey Bely (Ukraine)
Christopher Jones (Australia)
Farhan Tamendarov (Kazakhstan)
Daniel Ahmed (UK)
Victoria Levin (Israel)
Tatiana Zhukova (Ukraine)
Alla Kretchmer (Israel)
Mikhail Kretschmer (Israel)
Dinara Muminova (Korea)
Julia Ganetskaya (Japan)
Julia Olshevskaya-Hatzenböller (Germany)
Grigory Gachkevich (Moldova)
Linda Small (Germany)
Alex Levin (USA)
Lusine Aleksanyan (Armenia)
Natalie Lee (Kazakhstan)
Perizat Abdalieva (Kyrgyzstan)
Lola Saifi (Uzbekistan)
Bill Kralovek (USA)
Svetlana Skushidkevskaya (Uzbekistan)