Tiazhlov & Shtyka (eds.) Ukraine_Voices

A couple of months ago I wrote a text about the upcoming second edition of the Cinedoc festival in Tbilibi, Georgia. The festival included a section called Ukranian Voices with several films, also one that I had not heard about, ”Ukraine_Voices”. The day after I was informed by Dmytro Tiazhlov and Ella Shtyka, what was hidden behind the title – ”a documentary almanach”, 8 short documentaries made during the workshops organized by the Indie Lab project initiated by the two filmmakers. Tiazhlov has been reviewed on this site before for his works ”Cornered” and ”I was a Monument to Myself”. So I downloaded the film and watched. Here is the synopsis taken from the Georogian festival site:

A collection of 10 documentaries (in my download there were 8, ed.) gives a glimpse into nowadays Ukraine just before the crisis started. These short films are all directed by different filmmakers and tell us various stories, through these films we observe Ukraine from different points of view and get to the heart of what really matters to millions of young Ukrainians, we also get to know some unknown heroes and learn their stories.

And here is Tiazhlov’s comments from the site of festival Eastern Neighbours in Rotterdam last month: “Ukraine today is a pluralist society amidst authoritarian regimes, a fascinating and troubled country Poorly understood by its neighbors. It’s also home for extraordinary tradition of civil society and for Gifted writers, thinkers, artists, many of whom, reflecting on the Maidan, have raised in new ways Fundamental questions. The Ukrainian society realized that it could have a direct and real impact on the Government, as an equal partner in the decision-making process.”

The initiative itself deserves praise, and good also (in several films) to move away from Maidan and Kiev to see what happened elsewhere, filmed by young filmmakers and activists. It makes no sense to review film by film, so let me mention three, that had fine quality, (also) because they had a focus on one character, good idea when you have so little time as a short film allows you: ”More than Nikolai” (photo) by Oksana Sharnik, about the charismatic priest, who helps people in need and is very clear in his opinions, denying to stay at home, when there are demos in the streets of Kherson. Equally the ”Penalty for Justice” by Vyacheslav Bihun, who tells a horror story (nothing to do (at least directly) with politics) about a man, who was beaten up by the police, to end up in a wheelchair paralyzed, being helped by fine people to take his case to the European Court. The film is told through drawings. Excellent choice. And – Madian, yes – ”Right to Protest. The Beginning” by Aksynia Kurina with activist and journalist Mustafa Nayem, later awarded internationally for his contribution and dedication, who via FB called for demonstrations on the square. It is full of energy, has fun at the same time as you never doubt that what is going on is more than serious. Again – this collection of very different films and protagonists, mostly pro-EU, adds another aspect to our knowledge about the tormented country just around the corner from where I live…

Ukraine, 8 short documentaries, 2014, 81 mins.




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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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