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Festivals: Ukraine

Festivals: Ukraine


Gennadiy Kofman:

New Ukrainian Documentary Is To Be! From 22 to 28 March the Travelling festival of International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA will be held. This event raises painful issues of Ukrainian society and of the all mankind, and shows the films that go far beyond the concept of “human rights”. Thus Docudays UA has become the most significant event in the field of Ukrainian documentary. About the changes in Docudays UA in the last 10 years, the unique system of the festival screenings in other cities (which envy even European film fans), and the passivity of local officials and active Ukrainian documentary the program director of the festival Gennady Kofman speaks

different regions perceive films. For this purpose we have developed such a scheme by which our representatives in different regions choose the films themselves, due to the specificity of the local authorities, mentality etc.

UC ThelastDocudaysUAwasheldunder the slogan «No Authoritarianism». What is the message of this year’s tenth festival?


«There is a Choice!» — that is what the most films of this year festival say. We received about 500 applicational records from participants of almost all countries. UC How many viewers visit Your fest?

Only Kyiv festival part has gathered from 14 to 20 thousand spectators during the recent years. Speaking about the special screenings in other cities in Ukraine the number rises to 150 thousand spectators. This is significantly more than in the early years of the festival. The viewer is more adequate in the last decade. People didn’t trust the concept of «films about human rights» in our early years. They thought it would be something uninteresting and boring. But we’ve managed to change attitudes to documentary films during those years and we have European audience now. Too many movies made us reduce the competition program this year. If the last year competition program of full-length films consisted 16‑17 movies, this year syllabus has only seven. Even those pictures that got awards at prestigious film forums do not reach in this list. Usually foreign film festival winners stand in separate festival program, but we don’t do it. We have a lot of other non-competition programs. In particular, we will show the top five films from the 10‑year festival history. 

«Pit No.8»

UC How many cities does Docudays UA visit during the year?

The last festival traveled around 123 settlements. Screenings in other cities are usually held in the period from October to December. In the early fest’s years I traveled Ukraine and showed the films by myself, but we have a wide network of partners throughout the country now, about forty in total, they show our films by themselves. These are NGOs, movie clubs, cinema owners etc. Not all film festivals can boast such screenings network. When our colleagues in Geneva heard of such a screenings system, they simply did not believe in the possibility of its existence. UC Is there a difference in the audience perception in different regions of Ukraine?

I would not say that there are apparent contradictions in how viewers from

UC The scandal about the film «Pit No.8» erupted last year Docudays UA. The film is about a teenager who is forced to earn a living, getting coal mines, pits. The boy stared main role had huge problems after the film was shown: local guys beat him repeatedly, and neighbors stopped talk to him. Perhaps the film was not shown in the Donetsk region?

The «Pit No.8» was of a great interest — it collected a record for Ukrainian film views on YouTube (more than 200 thousand views — AF). Once the director of the central Donetsk cinema called me and asked to show the film. I explained that he may have problems because of this movie. However, the picture was shown in small movie clubs in Eastern region.

UC How do officials respond the issues raised in the festival films?

For example, when we demonstrate the scandalous film «The Other Chelsea», which quite acutely displays Donetsk realities, no complaints had been received from the powers. In other cases we felt no repression too. UC This context refers to the fact that the authorities should not make Ukrainian culture №3 2012

Result of the last festival is 123 settlements and 150 thousand people

unnecessary problems, but we don’t say they can decide the problems outlined in films…

I have seen positive actions from of the powers only in rare cases. As example, I showed Polish film «The Children of Leningradsky» (2004) (director Hanna Polak — AF) once in Kharkiv, it tells about children living at the Leningrad railway station in Moscow. Few days after the screening Governor held a meeting on rights of the child with regional officials. He began meeting with a review of this 30‑minute movie, then he told officials: «If you are going to tell me you don’t have the similar situation in your areas — you may resign…» He understood very well why, in principle, the movie is necessary… UC Why Docudays UA keep the phrase «films about human rights» in the name? Last and this year’s program films go far beyond this format.

Docudays UA has become the most dimensioned Ukrainian Festival on Human Rights. But the essential thing we care about is to show quality films. Indeed, the format of «human rights» is quite tight for us, but virtually every highquality film touches this topic somehow. A great team of lawyers also works to hold the festival, and if they do not help in the organization, the festival would have had lost a lot. UC The last «Molodist» festival budget was about $ 1 million, Odessa International Film Festival had about € 3 million, what is Docudays UA budget?

Declared festival budget is about $ 300 thousand, but the festival organization is based on the strength of volunteers mostly. We are constantly supported by the State Film Agency, which allocates the festival 100 000 UAH. Almost all the other sources of funding are grants and sponsorships. UC Which Ukrainian films will be shown at this year’s Docudays UA?

There will be a picture of Volodymyr Tykhyy «Mezhyhirya». It is the part of the anthology «Open Access» that has a crosscutting theme of the access to information in Ukraine. It is a story about how our journalists tried to break in Mezhyhirya (the private residence of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych — AF).

We’ll also show the almanac «Out of Euro», which consists of films by young directors. Each of these films is a kind of metaphor for how the Ukrainian and Polish conducted Euro 2012. The full-length work of Valentyn Vasyanovych «The Usual Thing» is been shown in the cinema now, and our festival will show a new documentary film of this director. It is called «Twilight» — a unique, very fine film that is a European film in the full sense of the word. As for me, Vasyanovych is a God blessed documentary director. We’ll also show just an extraordinary film «Life Span of the Object in Frame» by Olexander Balagur. He is such a unique filmmaker that doesn’t even fit the festival

We’ll be proud of our documentary prestigious award format. He has unusual authors’ view of things and the world in general. Today we can say that the domestic documentary is at the stage where new names will be heard very soon and we’ll be able to be proud of our fellow’s prestigious awards at many festivals. UC What domestic documentaries of last decade would You note?

«Against the Sun» (2004) by Valentyn Vasyanovych is significant. The situation in film industry was not the best those

Gennadiy Kofman, program director of Docudays UA

years, so he has not been able to shoot for a long time. Of course, I want to mention his brother Maxym Vasyanovych with his movie «Mom Died Saturday in the Kitchen» (2009), which received many awards at various film forums. Unfortunately, a good documentary Andriy Zahdanskyy went abroad. His great movie «My Father Eugene» (2010) is certainly in the list of the best Ukrainian documentaries of the last decade. With great caution I would mention Sergiy Bukovskyy. Everything he shoots he does with sincere and talent, but his early works are much closer to me. It’s a shame that Sergiy shoot so few films at the time. UC Online film festivals are getting more and more popular and become the indispensable information companions of every authoritative film forum. The viewer can see a particular film in their site being anywhere. Will Docudays UA master global network?

I know a number of film festivals that create servers with a huge base of movies that once can access for a small fee. I would like to create a server with the best Docudays UA films, but the main obstacle is the piracy. Unfortunately, it is so much developed in Ukraine and Russia, that almost every film we show at the festival appears online just in six months. However, the current format of the festival let us discuss the movie with other spectators or the authors. This is a great advantage to online viewing. UC Is it possible to watch Docudays UA movies on television?

Our television wants to show our movies but it can’t. The first reason is that festival films don’t fit TV time format. The second is domestic television is not able to pay the required amount for the rights to movies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . УК Photo provided by Gennadiy Kofman 

Docudays UA  

Gennadiy Kofman Interview by Anton Filatov

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