This year, for the first time in the festival’s history, feature-length films will compete in DOCU/UKRAINE competition. Our program director Gennady Kofman explains the challenges of this year’s competition.
For several years now, every year we receive about 100 applications for films created by Ukrainian documentary filmmakers or with the participation of Ukrainian documentary filmmakers. I must say that this year we had to choose from very strong works, and I really mean it. So we will present the first national feature documentary competition with pride, and not only to our audience, but also to a large number of festival selectors, distributors, and representatives of European TV channels who will visit our festival this year.
The creation of this strong program, which makes us proud, can be attributed to several key factors.
First, a new generation has grown up together with the festival. This is a completely new audience. If in its first years the festival gave viewers the opportunity to watch films which they could not watch anywhere else, today the audience has a choice. And the appreciation of our work will be, of course, embodied by the cinema halls of the Docudays UA festival locations, which will hopefully be full again.
In the 15 years of the festival’s work, a new generation of documentary filmmakers has formed — a generation of young authors whose taste and understanding of the nature of documentary film was also shaped, among other things, by the Docudays UA. These people are open to the world. They attend international forums, film festivals, they understand how the industry works today, they speak the same language as the audience. Their tone evokes trust.
Our industrial platform is developing. Every year, we try to find more and more opportunities to support our Ukrainian authors, to help them develop their projects and search for international partners. This year, the festival program will include films created by Ukrainian documentary filmmakers in co-production with European partners. And it is gratifying that the first step towards this partnership was also made together with Docudays UA.
The government support of cinema has also influenced the development of Ukrainian documentary filmmaking. As I have said many times, without support in their own country it is practically impossible for authors to find additional funds and proper partnership with international co-producers. In Ukraine, there is still only one source of film project funding, namely the State Cinema. But the democratic selection procedure, the openness of competitions allowed young authors to begin to trust this system. As a result, more than 70 percent of Ukrainian films in this year’s program were created with the government support. And the bulk of these films were created by young authors.
However, the participation of Ukrainian documentary filmmakers in this year’s festival will not be limited to the national competition. Films by our fellow Ukrainians will be represented in international competition programs of feature and short films, in non-competitive and special programs.
The majority of Ukrainian films will be premiered in Ukraine at Docudays UA, and our festival will serve as a launchpad for the successful festival rotation of most of these films and will start a new stage in their authors’ creative careers.
The First Company, dir. Yaroslav Pilunskyi, Yulia Shashkova, Yuriy Gruzinov
Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances About Death, dir. Tetiana Khodakivska, Oleksandr Stekolenko
Almost 10 000 voters, dir. Ulyana Osovska
The Cacophony of Donbass, dir. Igor Minaiev
Whereufrom, dir. Dmitry Lavrinenko
Woman and war, dir. Masha Kondakova
This year, the festival starts on March 23. The full program schedule will soon appear on our website. You can already buy the festival pass for a special price.
Photo: Whereufrom, dir. Dmitry Lavrinenko