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Sheffield DocFest has announced a special Ukraine focus, with Password: Palianytsia


In solidarity with Ukraine, Sheffield DocFest announces ‘Password: Palianytsia’ a collaborative documentary programme with Docudays UA which will launch the British Council and Ukrainian Institute’s ‘UK/Ukraine Season of Culture’ with the World Premiere of Babylon’13’s One Day in Ukraine


Sheffield DocFest is proud to announce the Ukraine focus: ‘Password: Palianytsia’ which will launch with the World Premiere of One Day in Ukraine, by media activist and filmmaking collective Babylon’13. This co-created film centres on a single day during the war in Ukraine, March 14, 2022.

The Ukraine focus includes work across Sheffield DocFest’s film programme, Alternate Realities exhibition, industry programme and Talks & Sessions with:

  • 4 feature documentaries in Sheffield DocFest Official Selection
  • 4 feature documentaries from Docudays UA Official Competition
  • Docudays curated screening with talk
  • VR, art and TikTok works in Alternate Realities exhibition
  • 5 projects in development selected for Sheffield DocFest’s MeetMarket
  • 3 projects in Works-in-Progress in partnership with Ukrainian Institute
  • Ukrainian delegation of filmmakers and artists supported by the British Council

This comprehensive programme is an expression of solidarity with Ukraine. It provides a powerful encounter with contemporary Ukrainian life – including the horrific reality of this war. For the Sheffield DocFest team, the programme grew from wanting to support and collaborate with their respected colleagues at Docudays UA and valued partners at the Ukrainian Institute and the British Council. The programme creates a space in which Ukrainian filmmakers and artists can continue to have their work seen, develop new projects, and keep Ukrainian culture alive.

Outside – Ukraine, Netherlands, Denmark – 2022 – Olha Zhurba

Due to the war, Docudays UA, the main human rights international documentary film festival in Ukraine, was prevented from taking place in March this year. Sheffield DocFest offered Docudays UK to collaborate on programming and to present the four Ukrainian films from it’s own Official Competition. Docudays UA then also curated a screening and talk to contextualise the current military aggression looking at how Ukrainian documentary filmmakers have experienced and comprehended the years since the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan) in 2014.

The Ukrainian Institute was already working with Sheffield DocFest to bring a delegation of filmmakers with works-in-progress to Sheffield as part of the long-planned UK/Ukraine Season. This would be the latest in several exchanges and initiatives between DocFest and the Ukrainian Institute over the last decade. After the full scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022, it did not seem possible for this exchange to go ahead as planned.

The fact that this collaboration has expanded, and is now represented across all of our programme, is a testimony not only to the great documentaries Ukraine is producing, but also to the resilience and the commitment of our Ukraine colleagues, who despite the unimaginable challenge of living in a state of war, continue to fight for the future of Ukrainian culture.

Clare Stewart, Interim CEO and the Sheffield DocFest team

The programme title – Palianytsia – is a large Ukrainian traditional bread made of wheat grain. The word itself has been used since the beginning of the war at checkpoints to identify saboteurs. Even a Russian-speaking Ukrainian can easily handle the demand to say “Palianytsia”. A Russian cannot pronounce a soft “ts” sound that does not exist in Russian. This word has given rise to many Internet memes, posters and popular songs. There are even radio interceptions where the Russian military is training to say it to each other – for fear of being exposed. This word alone testifies to Ukrainian identity and brings security.

On behalf of the entire team of Docudays UA, I thank the amazing people from Sheffield DocFest for the initiative to create a programme of solidarity with Ukraine this year. In the year when the war started in our country and when we have to postpone our festival until the moment of liberation from the enemy, this is an invaluable step. New Ukrainian films and projects – in spite of everything – will be able to gain their fans and jury evaluations

Roman Bondarchuk  Art Director, Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
Infinity According to Florian – Ukraine – 2022 – Oleksiy Radynski

The British Council and the Ukrainian Institute have been planning a season of culture in 2022 for some time –  originally  to mark 30 years of the UK’s diplomatic relationship with Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine in February  strengthened resolve to deliver a season, with a revival of interest in Ukraine’s culture and heritage. Through a year-long programme of activity the Season aims to  strengthen and deepen cultural partnerships between both countries, and provide new opportunities for exchange including through residencies, talks, films and lectures. The programme will focus on the changed needs and priorities of the Ukrainian sector and give a  voice to Ukrainian creatives, both in the UK and online. The British Council has a long-standing relationship with Sheffield DocFest, so launching the season here has particular resonance.

The British Council and Ukrainian Institute are delighted to be working together on delivering this season of culture, and to be launching it at Sheffield Doc Fest. Film is a key creative sector in Ukraine, and now more than ever it is important that new films giving voice to contemporary Ukrainian culture are visible and accessible to international audiences 

Scott McDonald, Chief Executive, British Council, and Volodymyr Sheiko,Director General, Ukrainian Institute

As part of the UK/Ukraine season and with the support of the British Council, a delegation of Ukrainian filmmakers and artists will visit Sheffield to present their documentary films, VR and artwork. Selected project teams will also attend to participate in the MeetMarket, Sheffield DocFest’s flagship pitching forum which connects selected teams with a vast network of international industry representatives at the Festival. The Docuday’s DOCU/PRO team have been vital contributors in facilitating the MeetMarket selection. Additionally, three films will attend for Work-In-Progress presentations as was originally planned, and these projects have been selected from an open call.Sheffield DocFest Official SelectionDocudays UA films from Official CompetitionTalks & SessionsAlternate RealitiesMeetMarket project selectionПокази Works-in-progress

Sheffield DocFest, now in its 29th year returns as a fully in-person event, is the UK’s leading documentary festival and one of the world’s most influential markets for documentary projects. It champions and presents the breadth of documentary form – film, television, immersive and art – in the vibrant city of Sheffield each June.

Sheffield DocFest runs from Thursday 23rd to Tuesday 28th June and the full programme will be announced on Tuesday 31st May, and public tickets go on sale.

The Festival Pass is available from £168, to access these and the full festival programme of films, exhibitions, talks, panels, industry sessions and live pitches, networking events and parties.

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