Ukrainian “Reface” app came out on top in the AppStore, ahead of TikTok, Netflix
The founders explain the success of the app by the publication in famous magazines and the popularity of Reface (previously named “Doublicat”) among celebrities. The app from Ukrainian developers Reface took first place in the American App Store in the “Entertainment” category. This was announced by one of the developers Oles Petriv at his Facebook page.
App Store downloads exceeded 27 million.
Reface also came in second in the Free Apps category. It was ahead of Instagram, YouTube and Messenger. On Android the app is also having a success, with the Reface App ranking # 1 in the Google Play Entertainment category in the UK, Canada, Australia and 14 other countries. 90% of Reface App’s growth is organic and only 10% is from marketing.
Reface is an app that uses AI-powered deepfake technology to let users try on another face/form for size. Aka “face swap videos”, in its marketing parlance.
The startup has Ukrainian founders: Roman Mogylnyi, CEO and co-founder of RefaceAI, Oles Petriv, Yaroslav Boiko, Dima Shvets, Denis Dmitrenko, Ivan Altsybieiev and Kyle Sygyda, but the business is incorporated in the US. The Ukrainian team behind the app has been honing their deep tech chops for years — starting working together back in 2011 straight out of university and going on to set up a machine learning dev shop in 2013.
The startup staff also grew by 30%. Now more than 50 people work in the Kyiv office. RefaceAI continues to strengthen the technical team.
In our dreams and in our vision we see the app as a personalization platform where people will be able to live different lives during their one lifetime. So everyone can be anyone. What’s the overall problem right now? People are scrolling content, not looking deep into it. And when I see people just using our app they always try to look inside — to look deeply into the picture. And that’s what really inspires us. So we understand that we can take the way people are browsing and the way they are consuming content to the next level.Roman Mogylnyi
In addition to Reface, there are other viral applications in the startup portfolio. For example, Reflect allows you to replace faces in photos.
- RefaceAI startup was founded in 2011. It studied machine learning, but then switched to artificial intelligence.
- Reface was released in early 2020. In the first month, it was downloaded 100,000 times.
- In April 2020, developers were able to attract large investments. Adventures Lab, one of the minority investors, has invested between $ 300,000 and $ 500,000 in the start-up.
Vasyanovich’s “Atlantis” selected in the long list of “European Oscar”
The anti-utopia of Ukrainian director Valentin Vasyanovich “Atlantis” received in Venice a prize film festival and got to the list of the “European Oscar”. There are currently 32 applicants in the long list. This award is considered an analogue of the “Oscar” and has been awarded since 1988.
This year’s selection for the European Film Awards took place in two parts. The final list of nominees will be announced on November 7. The premiere of the film “Atlantis” in Ukrainian cinemas is scheduled for November 5. The 33rd European Film Academy Awards will take place on December 12 in Reykjavik.
Now the film will be watched by film academics who will vote for the nominees for the award. We see every festival or award as an opportunity to tell the world about the war with Russia. This time we will be able to remind Europe of it once againValentin Vasyanovich
Let us remind you that “Atlantis” is an anti-utopia drama, the events of which unfold in the near 2025. According to the plot, Ukraine returns the occupied Donbass to its ranks. And although this territory is no longer suitable for life after the war, love is still born in it.
The film was produced by “Garmata Film Studio”. The film project became one of the winners of the 9th State Cinema Competition and received state financial support.
The movie starred non-professional actors. The main roles were played by Andriy Rymaruk, a former spy, a volunteer of the Army Charitable Fund “Come Back Alive”, a paramedic Lyudmila Bileka and a volunteer Vasyliy Antonyak. The film was shot in Mariupol and Kyiv.
The world premiere of “Atlantis” took place at the Venice Film Festival in the “Horizons” section. There the movie won a historic victory for Ukraine. The film later received a special jury award at the Tokyo International Film Festival, participated in the Toronto Film Festival and 60 other film events.
Kernel, one of the biggest Ukrainian agricultural companies has exported 8 million tons of grain crops, according to the results of the marketing year 2019/2020, announced by the CEO Yevgen Osypov. It’s a new historic record for Ukraine, as not a single agriculture exporter has ever reached this amount.
This substantial rise in exports became possible due to a chain of various factors, in particular an increase of in-house port facilities. By the end of this marketing year, Kernel is forecasting to increase grain export volumes and strengthen its leadership on the market.
Kernel became the operator with the largest transshipment volumes of grain in Ukrainian ports in the 2019/2020 marketing year. During the last two years the company has doubled export volumes, increasing its market leadership. Kernel’s share in total grain exports from Ukraine has grown from 11.6% to 13.3%.Yevgen Osypov, CEO of Kernel
As declared by Oleksandr Golovin, Director General of Kernel-Trade and Grain & Oilseeds Purchase Director, such positive results are not only due to the record grain crop yield for the second year in a row, but also for the efficient and well-coordinated teamwork of Kernel’s divisions of purchases, trading and logistics.
The record would not have been possible without fruitful cooperation with agriproducers. The agribusiness division of Kernel has supplied 2.8 million tons of grain. We have purchased 5.2 million tons more from agriproducers, partly owing to forward purchases, financing agreements and the Open Agribusiness partnership project. The figure has increased by 63% y-o-y. Our plans for this year are even more ambitious – about 7.4 million tons.Oleksandr Golovin, Director General of Kernel-Trade
Kernel’s figures showed not only an increase in export volumes, but also a change in the export destinations, mainly due to good crop yields in EU countries. However, China has significantly increased purchase volumes and bought over 1.5 million tons of corn from Kernel, which is 6 times more than in the previous season. Thus, the People’s Republic of China became the biggest importer for Kernel, surpassing the Netherlands and Spain, which were the main export destinations in the previous years. The largest amount of wheat was exported to East Asian countries: supplies to Indonesia and Thailand have increased significantly.
According to Oksana Karabin, Head of the Grain Trading Department, the 2020/2021 marketing year will be no less dynamic. The key issue is the food processing trend in the world. A sharp increase in corn production is expected in the US, and, together with the weakened demand for grain, they will put pressure on global prices. On the other hand, demand for biofuels has rapidly decreased. Cheap oil offer makes bioethanol and biodiesel economically unsustainable. These are bad news for the agrisector.
Kernel will face several challenges in the near future:
- The season has started with relatively high global prices due to unfavourable weather conditions in the Midwest of the United States. But prices dropped as soon as Brazil had a second record harvest.
- In early January, USA and China signed an agreement, which was supposed to put an end to the trade war. However, the market didn’t show any reaction at all. The threat of breaking off this new trade agreement has a negative impact on international trade.
- Covid-19, which arose in February-March, became the dominating factor in the world market. Rapid spread of the epidemic and global lockdown caused a recession in the world economy, and it affected food demand. The decline in people’s incomes together with the ethanol crisis in the US have collapsed global grain prices.
The situation is tough. However, agribusiness, unlike many other sectors, has not stopped and continues working. We regard global challenges as work intensification incentives. Further increasing sales on CIF terms, stepping up purchases and boosting cooperation with agriproducers are the main priorities for Kernel.Oksana Karabin, Head of the Grain Trading Department
Austrian Film Week 2020 opens the traditional season of film screenings in the Green Theatre
On the 4th of September, in Odessa, it will begin the Austrian Film Week 2020. The Odessa’s programme presents three feature films: movies about Sigmund Freud, the best shorts from all around the world and an amazing documentary immersion in the world of the Vienna Opera.
Movies are shown in their original language with Ukrainian subtitles.
04 September | 20:00
Der Trafikant (original title) 2018
117 min | Drama, History
Director: Nikolaus Leytner
Based on the international bestseller by Robert Seethaler. A tender, heart-breaking story about one young man and his friendship with Sigmund Freud during the Nazi occupation of Vienna. For one thing, it is a stunning recreation of the late 1930s in Vienna, thanks to the talents of director Nikolaus Leytner, his cinematographer and art director. The film expertly captures the tensions in the Austrian capital on the eve of Hitler’s takeover, and it also manages to be a vibrant coming-of-age story and an intriguing portrayal of Sigmund Freud, expertly portrayed by Bruno Ganz.
05 September | 20:00
Backstage Wiener Staatsoper 2019
96 min | Documentary
Director: Stephanus Domanig
Accompanied by Saint-Saëns’ “Samson et Dalila,” workers rise from the understage to set up the world that is a stage. These men and women toil in shifts from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the Vienna State Opera, sometimes making a thundering racket in the empty theater and then working as quietly as possible to avoid disturbing rehearsals or performances. They’re vital to the operation of one of the largest opera houses in the world. Stephanus Domanig’s film Backstage Wiener Staatsoper takes a look behind the scenes at this cultural institution, portraying the variety of work done there, most of it invisible, that enables the world-renowned singers, conductors and musicians to delight their audience.
06 September | 20:00
Best shorts of Ars Electronica 2019. The collection of short films presents animated films, video art, the best documentaries and feature films of the Austrian festival Ars Electronica 2019 in Linz, which has been a partner of the Week of Austrian Cinema in Ukraine for 9 years.
The event will be supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Arthouse Traffic. The general partner of the festival is Raiffeisen Bank Aval. The partner of the festival in Odessa is the Honorary Consulate of Austria in Odessa, ArthouseTraffic-Odessa.
Amber Johansen writes for The Odessa Journal a charming column, a blog about the city and people. She is passionate about vintage fashion, vegan food and wine.
She has lived in Odessa since autumn 2019
Amidst the Coronavirus crisis, international travel has become somewhat of a complicated affair. With many borders still closed, staycations are the zeitgeist and a perfect opportunity to explore our own backyards. Therefore, I decided to spend a weekend with some friends in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv or “the little Paris of the East” as it is often dubbed. Lviv is steeped in history, romance and awe-inspiring architecture that would satisfy even the most demanding tourist. The candle of Ukrainian national identity burns bright in Lviv, so you can forget practising your Russian skills, unlike in Odessa or the Eastern regions of Ukraine. It is best to brush up on a few phrases in Ukrainian before you go, but I found English to be understood in many tourism-dependent attractions, bars and eateries.
Here is my guide to spending 48 hours in this UNESCO-listed city.
Begin your busy day in the historic centre at Baczewski Restaurant on Shevska Street. As reservations aren’t taken for breakfast, you may queue for an hour as we did, but it is definitely worth the wait. The morning buffet costs a mere ₴160 (less than US$6) and entitles you to an all-you-can-eat feast, including a hot drink and a glass of champagne or vodka. In fact, the restaurant is named after the vodka-producing Baczewski family, who opened their first distillery near Lviv in 1782. Despite a full house of customers, I found the atmosphere of this restaurant to be relaxing and ethereal with a calming indoor garden, a skylight delicately spilling in the morning sun and soft piano music. There is also a gift shop in which you can pick up some hand-luggage-friendly bottles of flavoured vodka and other trinkets.
A few steps from Baczewski restaurant is the heart of Lviv – Rynok Square. Here you will find a collection of cafes, conceptual restaurants, museums and the Tourist Information Centre. In each corner of the square there are Neo-Classical monuments depicting four Greek Mythological figures; Neptune, Amphitrite, Adonis and Diana. The most prominent feature of the square is the Town Hall, where you can climb 408 steps to enjoy panoramic views of the city. Sadly the Town Hall was shut for maintenance the weekend we visited, but there are other rooftops dotted around Lviv that also offer you a birds-eye perspective. Rynok Square serves as a meeting point for guided tours, so from here we took a tour for ₴100 in the Ukrainian language (not including museum entry fees). Fortunately my friends helped with translations, but you can also take tours conducted in English. Our tour guide took us around the historical centre, the Pharmacy Museum, the Underground of Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church and the rooftop of Lviv Mall for the panorama we had earlier missed out on earlier. It was well worth the money.
After the indulgence of breakfast, you may wish to take a light lunch or snack. We visited Tsukor on Brativ Rohatyntsiv, where I munched on an affordable and flavourful avocado salad. A convenient 2 minute walk from Tsukor is Lviv Coffee Mine (Lvivska Kopalnya Kavy), which should be your next stop. Descending the stairs into the ‘mine’ presented us with a coffee-perfumed maze of cellars dotted with tables and chairs. Guests were wearing hard hats, whilst waiters waving blowtorches ostentatiously caramelised their cappuccinos. Upstairs is a souvenir store where I purchased some deliciously moreish dark chocolate-coated coffee beans. Omnom.
To conclude your afternoon, walk only 75 metres from the Coffee Mine to find Korniakt Palace, a branch of Lviv Historical Museum. Constructed in 1580, here you can see an exhibition of Rococo furniture and clocks, porcelain, medallions and precious silverware. I found the Italian Courtyard to be especially photogenic, epitomising 16th century Renaissance architecture in Ukraine.
Time is of the essence, so the best way to experience as much of the nightlife as possible and Lviv it up (sorry..) is to do a self-guided bar crawl. For a more family-friendly activity, you can take the Chudo Train for a sightseeing tour. The last train leaves at 8pm in summer or 4pm in winter, meeting at City Hall.
With no kids in tow, we took the bar crawl option. The first watering hole we visited, which is also a highly rated eatery, was a secret Masonic restaurant. Luckily, with the privilege of Ukrainian company, I was able to easily discover this illusive hideaway. The entrance to this restaurant is on the 2nd floor of a building on Rynok Square and looks deceptively like an apartment. We knocked on door number 8 and were met with a dishevelled white-haired bachelor and his fluffy pet rabbit. Greetings were exchanged before he allowed us in to his living room, where he opened yet another door to reveal a network of swanky candle-lit dining rooms. Truly strange. I won’t disclose too much here because the beauty is in the discovery, but I will advise you not to fret at the menu prices – it really is a joke and you can claim a tidy 90% discount.
Next up, make your way back across the Square to check out Pravda, which is world-renowned for its unique craft beers. Pravda is extremely popular and has daily live music starting from 7pm, so it can get a little noisy for holding conversation. Nevertheless, it has a friendly atmosphere and an excellent reputation among travellers and locals alike. I couldn’t truly appreciate this place myself as I’m not a beer drinker, but my friends gave it a big thumbs up.
Fast-forward a couple of bars to our noteworthy last stop – Masoch Cafe. This intriguing cafe is dedicated to nobleman, writer and eponymous masochist Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, who was born in Lviv in 1836. Before you’ve even placed your order, prepare for the cheeky waiters and waitresses to whip you unprovoked! The menu is loaded with unusual dishes, such as bull’s testicles, which we declined without regret and instead opted for some drinks. We saw shirtless boyfriends being whipped by their dates, who were both in fits of laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation. It’s all just a bit of cabaret-style fun, but certainly not a place for under-18s. On your way out the door, you’ll see a statue of Leopold – don’t forget to reach into his pocket.
Returning for the last time to Rynok Square, have a chilled-out breakfast at Centaur Cafe for al fresco dining and a spot of people watching. I recommend ordering a lavender cappuccino for your morning pick-me-up.
Post-refreshment, dabble in dark tourism by taking a short tram ride from the city centre to Lychakiv Cemetary. Situated on a forested hill, it was officially established in 1786 by Austro-Hungarian authorities, however burials first took place during the 16th century. Since then, more than 400,000 inhabitants have been laid to rest beneath these mysterious grounds. Epitaphs represent Lviv’s diverse and turbulent past, with inscriptions in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, German, Latin and Armenian. I advise taking a guided tour in order to get the most out of your visit, which you can arrange at the ticket booth.
Refuel with a leisurely lunch (we devoured the generous portions at Tiki Ramen on Staroievreiska Street), then traverse Lviv’s rich collection of opulent churches and cathedrals. You will find St. George’s, Bernardine, Latin and Dominican Cathedrals tightly packed and within walking distance of each other. The Armenian Cathedral of Lviv, the oldest historical monument in the city, particularly deserves your attention. The walls are decorated with stunning 600-year-old ornaments and mosaics, illuminated by ribbons of light filtered through stained-glass.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure as the saying goes, so spend the remainder of your afternoon perusing the quirky Rare Books Flea Market on Pidvalna Street, which operates daily. Not only for bibliophiles, there is also an eclectic array of vinyls, trinkets and memorabilia. The market is centred around a statue of Ivan Fedorov, famous for having published “The Apostle“, the first book printed in Ukraine.
I spent my last evening travelling back to Odessa, but if you have some time to spare then Lviv National Opera is highly-rated. Whether you admire its Neo-Renaissance grandeur from Freedom Avenue, or buy an entrance ticket (starting at a very budget-friendly ₴100) to watch interpretations of world classics and unique Ukrainian folklore performances, it is the cherry to top off your trip.
Of course, in 2 days only the surface of the city can be scratched and you may feel paralysed with possibilities, but you can make the most out of every hour by planning your time wisely and choosing central accommodation (I used the Booking.com App to find a cosy 2-bed apartment for peanuts). I also saved time by taking the direct hour-long flight from Odessa to Lviv with SkyUp, which operates 3 times a week. There is also the cheaper and more frequent option of Ukrainian Railways, which operates a train to Lviv 3 times daily, however the journey will take you more than 10 hours.
Good luck and enjoy your trip!
To be continued…