DOCU/ART: The Territory of the Gifts

06 March 2019

The DOCU/ART curator, Olga Birzul, takes us through the thrilling premises of this year’s section films.


This iteration of Docudays UA sees the return of the DOCU/ART section. This isn’t motivated exclusively by our love and admiration for cinematic art and artistic cinema. As a matter of fact, recent events have forced us to reopen the discussion. 2018 saw Kyiv lose two of its emblematic cinema halls: “Kinopanorama” and “Ukraina”. In the age of ubiquitous consumerism we are offered a touch of art between sprees at shopping malls and fast-food restaurants. As a result, cinemas and galleries find themselves ousted into the periphery of the community’s life.



Yet, not all societies accept these developments humbly. For instance, the protagonists of the Serbian film Occupied cinema spent several months fighting for the legendary “Zvezda” cinema hall but still crumbled under the weight of reality at some point. By the way, they’ll be there to share their experience right after the screening at Docudays UA. Guests are also welcome to join the open discussion titled “Public space: free admission?”, where Ukrainian activists and urbanists will talk of both their experience fighting for cinemas and successful cases of restoring cultural spaces in Ukraine (“Zhovten” cinema, March 24).


DOCU/ART’s second film brings us closer to an art activist. The protagonist is the legendary land-artist Christo. He emigrated from communist Bulgaria in the 60’s and started working with his wife, French-born Jeanne-Claude, on projects that are now a must-have in any art encyclopaedia: Christo wrapped the Reichstag and the Pont-Neuf bridge in fabric. The artist makes it a matter of principle to fund all his projects personally and to make them free to the public. Walking on Water is far from a standard biopic. It is rather a film depicting the creative process behind one of Christo’s final projects, the “Floating Piers” installation on Lake Iseo in Northern Italy. In simple words, we are offered a backstage view, which is, frankly speaking, a thrilling thing to see.


The third film is, to an extent, a conclusion to the program, moving the viewer to a more overarching issue – art being a gift that we have forgotten to present and receive. The characters of Robin McKenna’s Gift include the founders of a squat in Rome, where a free gallery and a migrant refuge operate at the same time; contemporary artists who present their works to museum-goers free of charge; a lady from the Burning Man festival, which is widely considered a money-free land; and other amazing characters whose main message comes down to art being a gift. We’ve also got a pleasant surprise in store: the director herself will join us in presenting her film, flying all the way from Canada.  


Written by: Olga Birzul

Photo credit: still from Robin McKenna’s “Gift”

25 – 
April 2022