Planeta Ukrain. Cinema. “Art and risk in between” at Triennale Milano

Art and risk in between

Uncertainty is a constant of the artist’s condition. Doubts and moments of hesitation are all inevitable to the process of creation on one side. On the other ambiguity is a steady companion of artists in social and political aspects throughout centuries. For the last eight years, Ukrainian culture experienced additional anxiety – the ongoing war, which was deliberately portrayed as a military conflict and blurred by the massive russian propaganda machine. Growing in postcolonial settings and drifting in insecure environment the Ukrainian artists appropriated the risk as modus operandi. Sometimes it gives them unanticipated opportunities, sometimes – destroys their creative potential. Trough music, film and art the selection of three films paves the way to the contrasts of Ukrainian reality. ‘Dixie Land’ poetically depicts a process of maturity in the children’s orchestra. ‘The Earth Is Blue as an Orange’ offers an intimate family story about passion for cinema and filming as an act of liberation in frames of exhausting war in Donbass. And finally, ‘Ivan’s Land’ portraits one of the last Ukrainian folk artist who earnestly rejects monetary success for a deep connection with his land. In these films, you won’t find shocking images from the latest news about Ukraine. They all are full of tender and beauty of everyday life to remind the world that the Ukrainians were deprived of a sense of certainty. Ukrainian cultural heritage is constantly ruined, the museums and theatres are destroyed, and the national identity is under attack of Kremlin’s genocide. With the help of poetic and delicate documentaries, we collected for you the moments of artistic creation. It gives a universal language of the human race to contextualize the Ukrainian resistance even though it is totally in risk.

Curated by Olga Birzul in partnership with Docudays UA IHRDFF

Olga Birzul is a film curator and culture manager. She has degrees in Ukrainian and English, journalism, and book design. In addition, she studied culture management at the EU’s Culture&Creativity and Developing Your Film Festival programs. Between 2006 and 2013, she worked for Ukrainian cultural media as a journalist and editor. In 2009, she joined the Docudays UA IHRDFF team. During ten years, she worked as programmer and coordinator of the festival’s education platform Docu/Class. Additionally she curated special program Docu/Art about interconnection of art and cinema. Between 2016 and 2018, she coordinated the festival’s cultural diplomacy project See Ukraine: Docudays UA on Tour. From 2019 to 2021, she was the head of the Film Sector at the Ukrainian Institute, a public institution that establishes international culture connections between Ukraine and the world. She is an author of the lectures about history and theory of non-fiction films as well as an expert in various projects for documentary filmmakers.

Co-curator – Yuliia Kovalenko, film critic and programmer at Docudays UA IHRDFF. In 2017, she received a PhD degree in Cultural Studies. She was a lecturer at the Department of Cultural Studies and Arts History of Odesa National Polytechnical University and at the Department of Fine Arts of Odessa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture. From 2015 to 2017 she was a program director at the independent movie theatre Inotheatre in Odesa, where she held the special program of Ukrainian art cinema We Are Here. As a film critic, she has publications in Ukrainian and international journals. Between 2016 and 2018 she was a co-editor of Cineticle Magazine devoted to art cinema. She is a member of Ukrainian Film Critics Union and National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. In 2019 she joined the program department at Docudays UA.

Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is a regular event with the annual 20K attendance in Kyiv and 100K in the regions of Ukraine. Member of the IHRFN and DAE. The Docudays UA usually comprises the Competition Programme (Docu/World, Docu/Short, Docu/Ukraine, Rights Now!), Non-Competition Program, and DOCU/PRO Industry Platform. Website: www.docudays.ua

Date: 13 September 2022

Location: Agorà hall


16.00 – Dixie Land

Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, 2016, 60 min

Director: Roman Bondarchuk

Waves of the Black Sea are crashing against the pier, sun is shining and the sky is blue. Dixieland children’s orchestra is playing a march. Their master is listening. Seems that the happiness will last forever. But growing up is inevitable. Suddenly it turns out that the teacher is mortal, and your friend has their own plans for life. Medals and orchestral instruments are glittering in the sun, but every child has their personal destiny – with music or without it.

18.00 – Ivan’s Land

Ukraine, 2020, 85 min

Director: Andrii Lysetskyi

Ivan Prykhodko is one of the last folk artists in Ukraine. He is self-taught, lives in the countryside, and everything that comes from under his brushes is naive and honest art. Ivan’s perception of the world, his inner life, is full of beauty and joy. One day Ivan’s paintings are requested for an exhibition at the Art Arsenal, the country’s main exhibition centre. Will he exchange his small village hut for the glamorous city life and the company of art critics and agents?

20.00 – The Earth Is Blue as an Orange

Ukraine, Lithuania, 2020, 74 min

Director: Iryna Tsilyk

The film is based on the observation of the family living in a small city in the ‘red zone’ of Donbas, one of the most severely damaged by shelling. 2014–15 were very difficult for this family. They slept in the cellar of their house every night. The house of their closest neighbours was destroyed by a mine. The children’s school was ruined too. Despite all these circumstances, the protagonists remain positive and even try to shoot films about the war by themselves. The war in Ukraine still goes on, but so does life.

All the films followed by Q&A with directors (via Zoom) and moderated by Lidia Liberman

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