Almost immediately after the Ukrainian state was announced independent 25 years ago, this milestone event began to be interpreted, for the most part, as exclusively political. However, outside the official pages of history, there has always been ordinary human life, which was also affected by the newly acquired independence. The program of the retrospective includes rare and often forgotten Ukrainian movies of the early 90s, which, instead of presenting the official account of this period, show the lives of ordinary Ukrainians. Margins of Freedom: Independence on Both Sides of the Screen will explore the topic of changes happening in the Ukrainian culture after the country gained independence, and each of the films will present the audience a story in which the acquired independence manifests itself in different forms, plots and genres.
Schedule of screenings:
September 8, 20:30
SHAMARA (1994), dir. Natalia Andreichenko (the film will be presented by its director Natalia Andreichenko and cinematographer Volodymyr Bass)
September 9, 20:30
DANDELION BLOSSOM (1992), dir. Oleksandr Ihnatusha
(the film will be presented by its director)
September 10, 20:30
DECAY (1990), dir. Mykhailo Belikov
September 11, 20:30
HUNT FOR THE COSSACK GOLD (1993), dir. VadymKastelli
Decay (1990) by Mykhailo Belikov is the first feature film about the Chornobyl disaster, details of which are being investigated by the film’s main character, journalist Oleksandr Zhuravliov. The film is not about the radioactive discharge as much as about the destruction of human relations and the collapse of the cynical state machine: despite the authorities trying to hush up the scale and the consequences of the tragedy, Oleksandr manages to uncover the truth and “liberate” it.
Dandelion Blossom (1992) by directorOleksandrIhnatusha is about a different kind of freedom. Having served 8 years in prison, a young man returns to his native village in already independent Ukraine. He has to adapt to the new order of things in the new country while trying to fight the vestiges of the old system, such as the local police, who continue to live and act in the same way as they did in the previous realities of the totalitarian and repressive state.
The title of Natalia Andreichenko’s film Shamara(1994) is the nickname of the film’smain character, Zina. She is a new kind of heroine in the Ukrainian cinema, similar to what “little Vera” was for the Soviet cinema in her time. She demonstrates violent behaviour, yet deep inside she is hiding romantic feelings for her husband, a prisoner who married Zina in order to avoid punishment for raping her. Although the events in the film take place in the 70s, the style of the narrative and the setting – the prison, the hospital – allow us to say that this film reflects the realities of the 90s.
The retrospective also features comedies. HuntfortheCossackGold (1993) from Vadym Kastelli tells a story of a descendant of Hetman Polubotok, who learns of his Cossack origin and of the treasures hidden by his ancestor in London. Now he is entrusted with a mission of national importance: to get the Hetman’s gold, which is also hunted for by the KGB, the Ukrainian mafia, the Party and the CIA. The film is an ironic response to the “hysterical” attempts at restoration of the Cossack heritage in the early 90s.
“Almost immediately after the declaration of independence, the latter began to be interpreted as a political event. In this situation, culture was perceived more as a decorative frame in an endless series of official events. This reduction almost completely dilutes all the pathos of independence and brings a diverse range of emancipative processes down to bureaucratic practices, leaving the potential of this historical period behind the scenes. With the help of cinema, more specifically, with rare and often forgotten Ukrainian films of the early 1990s, we will try to show what was happening outside the official and public pathos at the margins of Ukrainian independence,” said one of the program coordinators, head of the Department of Science and Program Development of Dovzhenko Center Stanislav Menzelevskyi.