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Focus on Ukraine

Redaktion
Redaktion

A film series about a resisting Ukraine

A text by Chris Schinke

Focus on Ukraine

Fortress Mariupol. Last day at Azovstal

A moment in history can be so pivotal that it not only shapes future events, but also puts an unmistakable spin on the past. Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began in 2014 and spread to all of Ukraine in 2022, represents such a turning point. The films in this year’s FOCUS ON UKRAINE section reveal both an individual and a collective need to address this conflict, whether it’s by documenting it, fictionalizing it, or as initial cinematic reflections. The protagonists are soldiers and first responders at the front, people trying to escape reality, time travelers from a more promising future, and artists who put their handicraft to their nation. Even objects necessary for defense and war, such as tank barriers, require skilled craftsmanship.

These two feature-length films and seven short films relate only somewhat directly to what’s currently happening in the war. There’s much more to tell about Ukraine. This manifests itself in a deliberate intent to fictionalize things; even documentary elements conform to a determination to define and shape the story. This leads to the creation of cinematic realms of possibility, set in the past or an imagined future from fictitious diary entries. There are also unvarnished, straightforward images that show the reality of war. However, these are not images of mere impotence, but an expression of artistic and practical resistance to the Russian occupation, be it in Mariupol, Kyiv, near Bakhmut, or along the country’s northern border. The resistance also manifests itself in seemingly minor acts of defiance that exude a calm and poetic strength.

Fragments Of Ice Online2 Neu

Fragments of Ice

A Poem For Little People Online1

A poem for little people

A cinéma vérité approach looks at the country’s most vulnerable people. The pain of the elderly who are forced to leave their homes and their homeland is made tangible. This shows how out of touch the discussion in Germany is when it comes to supplying arms to Ukraine. The air-raid sirens are a recurring and ubiquitous motif in this section. “My land, my homeland, I wish you a peaceful sky,” we hear at one point. Hearing air-raid sirens has become such a routine phenomenon in this country that its people no longer instinctively head for a shelter. This reality makes them feel completely powerless. Seeing a photo of a building you once lived in leaves you paralyzed the longer you stare at the column of smoke rising from the ruins next door. Rooms that were once full of life now elicit only a sense of foreboding.

Yet certain memories stand in defiance of contemporary events. Some documentation of everyday life arrives like a message in a bottle from a lost era. The images tell of a longing for the West and an identification with it. The ability of film to capture a moment is also explored. In some shots, time seems frozen. There are also moments that have eluded capture by photography, the realm of the untold, the to-be-told, and the possibly untellable. A fragment of a memory aptly states: “The past, like the future, is unattainable. The end of history never happened.”

The FOCUS ON UKRAINE section was curated by filmmakers Mila Zhluktenko and Daniel Asadi Faezi in collaboration with the Babylon’13 collective. Another sponsor is the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom/Thomas Dehler Foundation. As part of the Beergarden Convention, five Ukrainian projects in development will be pitched to an expert audience at the Amerikahaus on July 1st, 2024.

This project was compiled with the support of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the European Renaissance of Ukraine project. Its content is the exclusive responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the International Renaissance Foundation.

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