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13 February, 2012  ▪  Yaroslav Pidhora-Hviazdovsky

Ukrainian Cinema. Making It Real

The Ukrainian Week launched the Cinema Project column 18 months ago to talk about Ukrainian films at different stages of production. It is time now to check in and see how they are doing

Of all the films we wrote about, Mykhailo Illienko’s Firecrosser was released first. We have decided to see how the others are doing and what prospects they have. Remarkably, Illienko’s film had significant government financing and is a purely Ukrainian product without co-production with other countries. Can we say that the Ukrainian cinema is coming back? We will see in a minute.

Firecrosser

(feature-length film)

 

Genre: historical drama

Director: Mykhailo Illienko

Status: completed

The film is based on the life story of the outstanding pilot in the Second World War, Ivan Datsenko. The film went into production in 2007 but was delayed for 18 months due to serious problems with financing. The budget of nearly $2 million was filled by the state and the Insight-Media Production Centre.

Release: released in Ukraine on January 19 with 12 copies and drew largely positive reviews. The distributing company B&H started film screenings from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk. The film will be shown in 13 Ukrainian cities in January-February 2012. It is scheduled for television broadcast in 2013, and DVD and Blu-ray releases will come later.

Delirium

(feature-length film)

Genre: experimental avant-garde drama

Director: Ihor Podolchak

Status: completed

The film went into production in 2008, but it took Podolchak three long years to complete it. Meanwhile, he debuted with Las Meninas. On the good side, he had neither deadlines nor pressure from the producers to deal with. He invested his own money and used help from his friends and businessmen and eventually reached a budget of $900,000. Delirium delivered the goods – just like Las Meninas, it strikes the audience with its formal complexity, combinations of visuals and sounds and undeniable ambiguity.

Release: undetermined.

Podolchak is now looking into festival participation. He did not make it in time for the Berlinale, so he is now waiting for a reply from the organizers of New York-based Tribeca Film Festival.

My country is Ukraine 

(an animation series)

Genre: adventure, history and comedy

Directors: Stepan Koval, Oksana Pryshchepa, Serhiy Rudenko, Andriy Sliesarevsky, Kostiantyn Chepik, Yevhen Alokhin, Oleh Tsurikov and Natalia Skriabina

Status: in production

As of October 2008, 12 of the 26 instalments were completed. According to the State Agency for Cinema, the series must be finished by the end of 2013. These three-minute pieces are being made in the Novatorfilm production studio headed by animator Stepan Koval and are based on the concept “comic stories about cities.”

Release: undetermined

According to Koval, the artistic director of the project, the Ministry of Culture is supposed to take care of the film’s distribution. Sources in the ministry say that he also has the right to determine the future of his product.

In Love with Kyiv 

(an almanac of short films)

Genre: comedy, drama and melodrama

Director: Illia Vlasov, Taras Tkachenko, Valeriy Bebko, Denys Hamzinov, Olha Hibelynda, Oleh Borshchevsky and Artem Semakin

Status: completed

The almanac was launched in 2010; 10 short films were shot of which eight were included in the final collection. Each story is about Kyiv only. The shooting started in June and ended in December 2011. The $800,000 film did not use any government money, relying exclusively on private investments. It was part of the Ukrainian stand at the Cannes Film Festival.

Release: the world premiere took place on February 9, 2012. The production company inQ signed an agreement with a large distributor, Top Film Distribution, on distributing the almanac in the CIS countries and the Baltic states.

Who is afraid of Uncle Babai?

(feature-length animation)

Genre: adventure and mystique

Director: Maria Medvid

Status: in production

After starting in the spring of 2008 with a budget of UAH 10.5 million, the picture cartoon, which was fully financed from the state budget, went into hibernation in 2009 due to a lack of funds. In 2011, after a video was produced using material shot in Ukranimafilm, the State Agency for Cinema decided to replace director Natalia Marchenkova with Maria Medvid. The new deadline is January 25, 2013.

Release: undetermined

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

(short animation)

Genre: ironic detective story

Director: Oleksandr Bubnov

Status: close to completion

A multilayer computer animation technique with painted inserts was used for the film which went into production in 2008 as a continuation of an 18-minute-long cartoon under the same title. The sequel was designed as a half-an-hour one-piece short animation film, but it later turned into a mini-series with six parts, each running 6.5 minutes. Director Oleksandr Bubnov intends to complete shooting by May 2012.

Release: undetermined

The world premiere is planned to take place in Ukraine after which the cartoon will be shown at festivals.

The Demons

(feature-length film)

Genre: drama with elements of comedy

Director: Varvara Faier

Status: search of financing

The project kicked off in 2010 and successfully went through the pre-production stages: preliminary financing (a tentative budget of $420,000; financing from Ukrainian and Russian private investors), deciding on locations (Poltava Region) and casting (Ukrainian and Russian actors). The project was frozen after several autumn scenes were shot. Pitching at the Odesa Film Festival in July 2011 failed to attract investors. The film was not submitted to two government-organized competitions for financial support.

Release: undetermined

Ursus, the Caucasian Brown Bear

(feature-length film)

Genre: road movie, drama

Director: Otar Shamatava

Status: preproduction

This is a Ukrainian-Georgian-German production that was started in 2011 and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013. While the team is working on the director’s version of the script, the producers are waiting for responses from several actors they invited. As far as financing is concerned, there is still no answer from Ukraine’s State Agency for Cinema (the film successfully passed the first competition) or Georgia’s Cinema Centre. Instead, the project acquired a new partner in the German company Ma.Ja.De Filmproduktion, which earlier financed two Serhiy Loznytsia films. The project will be presented for the first time at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2012.

Release: 2014

The Brothers

(feature-length film)

Genre: psychological drama

Director: Viktoria Trofymenko

Status: preproduction

The project was launched in 2011 and then stopped due to a lack of financing. The film was chosen by the government for financial support. The production company, ProntoFilm, has received money and resumed work on the film. Locations have been picked, and casting trials have continued since December 2011. The first shooting period is scheduled to take place in late February 2012 in the Carpathians (the “winter story”). Then, in April and May, when the snow has melted, more shooting will be done in the mountains (the “summer story”). Producer Ihor Savychenko plans to complete the film by January 2013.

Release: autumn of 2013


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