Ukrainian films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

As part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, three films were screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). As well as this, four films, directed and produced by Ukrainian creatives, were presented at EIFF Works in Progress.

Ukrainian films in the programme

The audience of the festival have watched the drama Reflection by Valentyn Vasyanovych, the documentary film One Day in Ukraine by Volodymyr Tykhyy, and The film 107 Mothers (Cenzorka) by Peter Kerekes.

  • Reflection by Valentyn Vasyanovych. The world premiere of the film took place in the Official Selection of the 78th Venice Film Festival. The film is about a civilian surgeon from Dnipro city who goes to the frontline as a volunteer and gets captured. A peaceful life awaits him after his liberation, but his past haunts him. Communicating with his ex-wife and 12-year-old daughter, who is also traumatized by the death of a loved one in the war, gives him hope for healing.
  • One Day in Ukraine — the first full-length film of the Babylon’13 association from the period of the full-scale war. The director of the film is Volodymyr Tykhyy. The film began its festival history with a Special mention from the jury in the International competition of Sheffield DocFest, the largest British documentary film festival. The film tells how the lives of a pop singer, a video engineer, a historian, a restorer, a polar explorer, and a pensioner changed with the beginning of a full-scale war.
  • 107 Mothers (Cenzorka) jointly produced by Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will also be shown. This is the debut feature film of Slovak director and screenwriter Peter Kerekes. The plot of the film revolves around a young woman Lesya, who was sentenced to imprisonment in one of the correctional institutions of Odesa. There she gives birth to her first child. The world premiere took place at the Venice Film Festival, where the film was awarded the Best Screenplay Award in the Orrizonti competition programme.

"The British audience is unfamiliar with Ukrainian film production, and the British film industry is a closed system. Therefore, industrial presentations and screenings of Ukrainian films in the program of one of the most famous film festivals in Great Britain are essential in the context of spreading knowledge about Ukraine through art. We were pleasantly surprised that despite the moderately filled cinemas, all the viewers stayed for the discussion and were interested in what is happening now in Ukraine and what the process of film production looks like during the war,"

said Nataliya Movshovych, Head of Film department in the Ukrainian Institute.

A Ukrainian showcase within the framework of the EIFF WIP industrial section

A Ukrainian showcase was also held within the framework of the EIFF Works in Progress industrial section. International sales agents, distributors, producers, and programme coordinators of festivals have got to know future Ukrainian feature films in the final stages of production in advance. Representatives of the Edinburgh Film Festival selected four projects for participation based on the pre-selection conducted by the Ukrainian Institute in partnership with the Arthouse Traffic film company:

  • The Editorial Office (feature, directed by Roman Bondarchuk, produced by Darya Bassel). 
  • La Palisada (feature, directed by Philip Sotnychenko, produced by Valeria Sochyvets, Sashko Chubko, Halyna Kryvorchuk). 
  • Displaced (documentary, directed by Olha Zhurba, produced by Darya Bassel). 
  • Expedition 49 (documentary, directed by Alisa Kovalenko, produced by Stéphane Siohan, Valery Kalmykov, Tomek Morawski, Katarzyna Kuczinska). 
  • The Editorial Office (feature, directed by Roman Bondarchuk, produced by Darya Bassel). According to the plot, the young scientist Yura witnesses the arson of the forest. He brings a photo of the arsonists to the editorial office of the local newspaper. By coincidence, Yura continues to work in the newspaper and gets involved in the bizarre world of the post-truth.
  • La Palisada (feature, directed by Philip Sotnychenko, produced by Valeria Sochyvets, Sashko Chubko, Halyna Kryvorchuk). The film tells about the investigation of the murder of a policeman, which takes place in 1996, 5 months before the abolition of the death penalty.
  • Displaced (documentary, directed by Olha Zhurba, produced by Darya Bassel). The work on the film, which documents the Ukrainian refugee crisis, began shortly after the full-scale Russian invasion.
  • Expedition 49 (documentary, directed by Alisa Kovalenko, produced by Stéphane Siohan, Valery Kalmykov, Tomek Morawski, Katarzyna Kuczinska). The film tells the story of five rebellious teenagers from a front-line Donbas town who go on a unique therapeutic expedition to the Himalayas.

"The festival in Edinburgh is one of the oldest film events in the world, and the British market is one of the largest. I am sure that participation in the EIFF Works in Progress industrial section will contribute to the cooperation of our cinematographies. At least, shortly, more Ukrainian films will appear on the British market, and in the future, we will have films created in co-production between Ukraine and Great Britain." ,

— noted Ilya Dyadyk, Program Director of Arthouse Traffic film company.
EIFF2022, Works In Progress. August 19, 2022. Photo Credit - Pako Mera

Partners of the programme

The Edinburgh International Film Festival took place on August 12—20, 2022.

The Ukrainian program was presented with the support of the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute as part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture. The project partner was the Arthouse Traffic film company