Text by Agne Dovydaityte
Enough showing Ukraine as a dark country with the smell of death and agony behind every corner. It’s time to celebrate it. In the face of the national and international tragedy London art gallery and workshop ArtFix invited cinema enthusiasts to have a different look at Ukraine. It’s not just documentaries about Maidan and the country’s politics what distinguishes it from the portrayals of other nations on TV screens. Ukraine also has produced a wide range of short films, fulfilled with love, beauty, and very often melancholy. 12 of them were screened in the Ukrainian short film festival at the ArtFix gallery on 24-25 May.
Programmer Silvio Barca often visits Ukraine and aims to show to the audience the beauty and versatility that he sees in it. The two-day presentation at the ArtFix is a result of his collaboration with CUC (Contemporary Ukrainian Cinema), a collective of young Ukrainian filmmakers who want to change their country’s film industry for the best and support emerging artists.
Most of the movies had a strong potential to influence the feelings and moral values of the audience. The First Step in the Clouds by Alina Gorlova (2012) was indeed one of them. Three middle-age men entertain themselves by watching and scaring couples who are having intimate moments in the forest. But one time awakens some of their memories and feelings which possibly were forgotten in this ‘vanity fair’ of the daily routine. Cussing and scaring a girl during her first time with her partner reminds the men of their first experiences. The ‘first time’ is paralleled to ‘first steps in the clouds’, and destroying this moment and ruining the miracle seems to affect not just the couple but the aggressors themselves. The short film’s final moments show the protagonists sitting in the pouring rain, as if willing to rinse off their guilt and pain.
This innocence and fragility was part of the other movies as well. And as the screenings attracted many people, Barca’s mission to challenge the perception of Ukraine can be assumed to be successful. At least for a few hours, the audience was immersed into an image of Ukraine which differed from the usual media portrayals and stereotypes.
Certainly, this is not to suggest that the ongoing conflict in the East of Ukraine must be forgotten. However, the audience had a chance to see the artistic take on the values that are being fought for and defended in the war.
Other movies screened during the event:
Malanka – Chervonyj Sobaka (2008, 3′)
A short animation music video for one of Ukraine’s most iconic folk-rock bands’ songs – Haydamaky.
Eskimo – Mariia Ponomarova (2012, 13′)
A train in rural Ukraine, a bossy woman and a frustrated pianist. It only takes an ice-cream to set everyone free.
Seni Sevem – Nariman Aliev (2014, 16′)
When he says to her, “Men seni sevem,” she doesn’t understand him. When he says to his father, “I love her,” the father does not hear him.
Weight – Yuriy Shulov (2015, 11′)
A man lies on the grass in the courtyard unveiling a lot of strange dialogues from other people.
The Way – Maxim Ksjonda (2012, 21′)
A clique of teenagers have fun a in a peculiar way: they fasten a wheelchair to a truck, without the driver being aware of it and a chosen one tries and go as far as her can. Today is Micha’s turn.
Say Popcorn – Valeria Kalchenko (2015, 15′)
What if Rocky Balboa was a Polish girl with a speech impediment and only 152 cm tall, who dreams to become a student at the theatrical university of Kyiv? Meet Veronica Kleschnia, she’ll show you how to become successful.
Departure – Maxim Ksjonda (2013, 6′)
An entertaining animation work about the life of a lightbulb.
Tenderness – Anastasiya Maksymchuk (2014, 18′)
A couple. A house in the Ukrainian countryside. A pregnant wife. A job interview in the city. Till something hits and changes their lives forever.
Analgesia – Valeria Sochyvets (2014, 16′)
A doctor has to go with his patient to the mountains. A trip that he will never forget.
Legacy – Michael Masloboishchykov (2013, 21′)
Vania, his Mother and Sister move into an old flat, which they receive as a part of their legacy. Some things will vanish from the flat forever, however something permanent will emerge. Home alone, Vania will meet his Grandfather for the first time.