The Shadows of Unforgotten Ancestors (Tini nezabutykh predkiv)
Directed by Liubomyr Levytskyi
This is one of the few independent film projects in Ukraine today. Its director is known for Shtolnia (Tunnel), his debut and the first Ukrainian thriller — but one that did not claim much success — attracted private investment for his second film after previous attempts to get state funding for his first movie. A promoter of popular cinematography, Liubomyr wanted to work in the most popular genres – youth thriller and mystic film – focusing on Hollywood product and style. So he invited a Hollywood cinematographer Mark Eberle to work on his Shadows, and involved mystery, beautiful girls and suspense. The cast involves young unknown actors from all over Ukraine. The main actor, however, is Carpathian mysteries.
Started back in the 2000s, this project involved a script rewritten over and over again, new actors, an unplanned budget increase and challenging shooting, but the result was worth it. The trailer recently posted online reveals brilliant camerawork by Serhiy Mykhalchuk, while colour correction and sound perfectly backed by the 100%-right choice of Jamala’s voice and personality unexpectedly put the film about yet another dreadful page in Ukraine’s history — the extermination of kobzars in 1943 — on the list of potential blockbusters.
Released in spring 2014
Directed by Oleh Sentsov
Released two years ago, this film has only just now been officially completed. As it often the case with Hollywood movies, Gamer came out in 2011 slightly unfinished. Now, the movie about cyber sport and a gamer boy has completed soundtracks, is dubbed in Ukrainian and all rights are settled with the copyright owners. This is definitely an extra bonus for the movie that already enjoyed a warm welcome from audiences at festivals. Oleh Sentsov is a former businessman, a fan of video games, and an amateur director with no professional education in cinematography.
This film about Ukrainian strongman Ivan Syla – Strong Ivan – is for children. A cast of brilliant Ukrainian actors including Oleh Primohenov, Borys Barskyi, Olha Sumska, Bohdan Beniuk and Les Zadniprovskyi was joined by Vasyl Virastiuk and Dmytro Khaladzhi, two Ukrainian stars of power lifting. The production involved a complete digital storyboard. The budget was only UAH 15.5 million, so the 20th century film was created mostly digitally.
Date of release: unknown
Directed by Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova
This ambitious co-production went through fire and water before it collected the funding from Ukrainian, French and Armenian investors. Now, it is seeking promotion in the West. One of its priorities is to get Ukraine noticed: first, Paradzhanov is a well-known Ukrainian in the West. Second, director and actor Serge Avedikian is a French citizen and the winner of the Cannes Festival prize in 2010. He knew Serhiy Paradzhanov personally, so he portrays the renowned director on the screen from first-hand experience.
The story of three people played by Serhiy Romaniuk, Iryna Novak and Andriy Dzhedzhula is a psychological drama with elements of fantasy. The dramatic component bares relations while fantasy shows a non-existing city which looks painfully familiar though. It is Prypiat, now better known as Chornobyl. The trio of the characters – the nuclear plant director, a woman who lost her family in the foreclosed area, and an adventure seeker – reminds one of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. But that’s the only thing the two films have in common. The script by Marko Hres is about coincidences, encounters and incidents that are not incidental. A Cursed City with a budget of UAH 6 million is Potrukh’s debut in feature films.
Another film by Levytskyi and his most difficult child: he started the shooting in the late 2000s, funding his work with his own money. When he ran out of cash, the project was frozen and only resumed after the state stepped in with aid. Lombard is a thriller about a robbery. A fair amount of slang in the script makes it a reflection of the modern-day young semi-criminal environment – a know-how in Ukrainian cinematography. The film is a direct analogy to Guy Richie’s films with cash, big wins and smoking guns.
Date of release: unknown
Lehka mov piryinka (Light as a Feather)
Directed by Andriy Rozhen
The film was shot in 2011 for the Ukrainian and African markets, especially Nigeria which is the second biggest film producer in the world. The cast includes Nigerian actors – Omoni Oboli and Ostin Eboka – and Andriy Rozhen from Ukraine. Light as a Feather was the only Ukrainian film presented in full in this year’s Cannes Festival. It’s a music melodrama based on a universal storyline with the relationship of a Nigerian woman and a Ukrainian man as the central dramatic component.
A Ukrainian-Turkish co-production, the film was one of the first state-funded projects started in 2011 and funded by the Turkish Culture Ministry earlier. The shooting kicked off in winter 2012 with the date of release planned for June-July 2013. The film is about an affair between a Ukrainian woman and a Turkish man, about two people “lost in translation” and national and ethnic discrepancies. The film may well be based on the director’s personal experience: she studied in Kyiv, then moved to Istanbul where her Turkish husband lived — Mehmet Bahadir Er, who wrote the script for the film. The two have already shot a feature film called Black Dogs Barking.
Date of release: unknown
Directed by Valentyn Vasianovych
After Vasianovych’s first film Zvychaina sprava (Ordinary Business) which was a flop, Kredens somehow managed to get 50% of its funding from the state. The script’s benefit was its focus on the prose of life. Being very close to reality, the film conveys an obvious social message without being too complicated to understand. It tells the story of a Lviv-based cellist struggling with problems at work and at home. The director saw it as a combination of static scenes with dynamic episodes shot with a hand camera. The shooting is already completed and the production is scheduled to end in September.
The shambolic renovation of the Central Electoral Commission, which has been in progress for several years now, looks about to be finally concluded. On Feb. 5, the President submitted a list of candidates to the Verkhovna Rada and this suggests that the process is finally being unblocked