Highlights include Ukraine’s Oscar contender, Klondike – a hard hitting depiction of the traumatic realities of war. Directed by Maryna Er Gorbach it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, winning the World Cinema Dramatic Competition for directing. Set in 2014, it stars Oxana Cherkashyna as a pregnant woman living near the Ukrainian-Russian border during the Russo-Ukrainian War and the shooting of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
There will also be the British and Irish Premier of Luxembourg, Luxembourg by Director Antonio Lukich, which tells the story of twin brothers who are trying to cope with their own lives when their long-lost father suddenly appears. This is Lukich’s second feature film, following My Thoughts Are Silent which won a special jury prize at Karlovy Vary in 2019.
The film Pamfir is the debut of Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy. It premiered this year at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and is a crime drama masking as a dark fairy tale. The story, set in western Ukraine against the backdrop of the Ukrainian national festival, Malanka, follows retired smuggler Pamfir who returns to his home in Western Ukraine. He is determined to earn an honest living to support his family, but his plans for a life without crime are compromised and Pamfir returns to the world of smuggling for one last job.
Classic films in the programme include Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors which is considered to be the most internationally heralded Ukrainian film in history. Made in 1965, it tells an epic tale of life in the Carpathian mountains, where a young man falls in love with the daughter of the man who killed his father. Meanwhile, Brief Encounters (1967), which was banned by Soviet censors for twenty years, is perhaps the best-known film from acclaimed filmmaker Kira Muratov. This romantic drama follows the story of two women who meet and become close, unaware they are both in love with the same man.
Ukrainian Film Month is presented under the umbrella of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, which the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute launched earlier this year to mark 30 years of UK/Ukraine diplomatic relations. Through a year-long programme of activity, the season focuses on the emerging needs of the Ukrainian cultural sector and gives a voice to Ukrainian creatives, both in the UK and online.
Speaking ahead of the film screenings David Codling, UK/Ukraine Season Director at the British Council, said: “The British Council and Ukrainian Institute are delighted to be able to showcase some of the best of Ukrainian cinema through this season of culture. Ukraine’s film sector is a varied and distinctive one, and these films remind us that contemporary Ukrainian cinema is daring, challenging and unafraid.”
“In western Europe, Ukrainian film has not always received the exposure and recognition it deserves, but we hope this November to shine a spotlight on its depth and creativity. Now more than ever, it is important to listen to different voices from Ukraine’s vibrant cultural scene and for audiences abroad to understand the country’s complex past and multifaceted identity.”
Speaking from Ukraine, Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian Institute, said: “Currently, there is a real surge in interest towards Ukraine, unfortunately due to the tragic reasons. Ukrainian cinema has long been largely unknown in the world. However, in the recent years Ukrainian film sector has developed rapidly. We at the Ukrainian Institute are happy to support this opportunity and familiarise the British public with the notable examples of Ukrainian modern and classic cinema. I am convinced that the Ukrainian Film Month will help people better understand Ukrainian realities and culture.”
Alongside this rich touring programme, films from the Ukrainian archives will also be screened in Cambridge. The Cambridge Film Projects and Cambridge Ukrainian Studies, together with the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Film Centre, Kyiv, will host film screenings from the famous collection of the All-Ukrainian Photo-Film Administration (VUKFU).
VUKFU was a pioneering film studio established in 1922. During almost 9 years of its existence, the studio formed a successful Ukrainian film industry, releasing classics as Man with the Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov and Earth by Oleksandr Dovzhenko. However, after its closure in 1930, its legacy was almost completely erased from the history of global cinema. The screenings will take place in the Museum of Technology, Cambridge, with all proceeds to support humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
The UK/Ukraine Season of Culture will run until March 2023.
Ukrainian Films Month Programme:
When: 3 – 12 November
Leeds International Film Festival
When: 3 – 17 November
Cinecity Brighton Film Festival
When: 11 – 20 November
When: 14 – 20 November
Ukraine’s Pioneering VUFKU Studios: One Hundred Years On
When: 3 November from 17:00
Where: Museum of Technology, Cambridge
In the Museum’s first exhibition room, Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera will be projected on a large screen. Clips of Vertov’s overlooked documentary The Eleventh Year and Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s epic Zvenyhora will also be screened along routes through the Museum. The final film in the Pye Building will be a screening of Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s Earth with a new soundtrack by internationally acclaimed band Dakha Brakha. Additionally, there will be an exhibition of VUFKU Film Posters in the city centre.