Culture News, 01/10/2019

Kharkiv MeetDocs Festival: Film Screenings, Conferences and Workshops

For the third consecutive year, Kharkiv MeetDocs Eastern Ukrainian Film Festival was held in Kharkiv on 25-29 September. Civic engagement and independent journalism have become this year’s theme of the event.

This year, the festival opens new horizons and new perspectives: kids and teens’ video contest on socially important topics and workshops for students were held for the first time as part of Kharkiv MeetDocs. Masterclasses and round tables involving leading filmmakers from around the world, screening 24 feature films, 30 short movies and three retrospective shows presented by Ukrainian documentary masters were part of the event.

On September 25, the debut full-length film by Nariman Aliev, Ukrainian director of Crimean Tatar origin, opened the festival. The movie reveals a story of Mustafa, the Crimean Tatar whose sons came to Kyiv after Crimea’s annexation by Russia in 2014. When the older son dies, his father comes to Kyiv to get his younger brother back home and bury the dead son according to Muslim tradition. “Homeward” was screened in the Uncertain Regard section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on May 2019. In July, the film won the Grand Prix at the 10th anniversary of the Odesa International Film Festival. It was selected as the Ukrainian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

On September 26, International Conference on Independent Journalism and Civil Activism took place in Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics as part of the festival. Representatives of regional and foreign media, investigative journalists and war correspondents share their experiences with students of Kharkiv universities and festival’s guests.

Correspondent of Ukrainian News information agency and founder of the KharkivTimes online media Serhii Bobok and journalist Pavlo Novik informed about problems which journalists usually face such as pressure by the authorities and oligarchy. The speakers explained how to maintain critical thinking and gave tips on creating news.

Specifics of war correspondents’ work was also discussed at the conference. This part of the event started with the screening of “Peacekeepers. In the Mountains of Svaneti” documentary.

The RadioFreeEurope journalist, presenter of Current time TV Olha Kalenichenko and the journalist of the French newspaper La Figaro Stéphane Siohan talked about the realities of Ukrainian journalism, how to film a real war, the specifics of working at the frontline, and how foreign colleagues assess these processes.

On September 27, Anton Yaremchuk gave a master class on the creation of documentary films: from the student workshop to the premiere in Amsterdam.

He is a Ukrainian cameraman and cinematographer who works in Germany. His short film “Punti di Vista” won the “Generation Reporter 2015” prize in Italy. Anton told about all the stages of the film development, how to create an independent documentary without ties and budget, as well as the challenges of creating a movie under complex circumstances.

The main documentary section was presented by the leading European and world filmmakers as well as the most recent Ukrainian documentary such as “Story of the Winter Garden” by Semen Mozgovyi, “Brothers in Arms” by Serhii Lysenko, “I believe. I Wait. I Pray” by Kateryna Strelchenko. 

Kharkiv director, the winner of the Docudays UA Film Festival Dmytro Lavrynenko presented his new film “Parts” at the festival. The festival was closed by “Putin’s Witnesses” film by Vitalii Mansky.

Leading documentary makers Serhii Bukovsky and Vitalii Mansky, teacher Valentin Marchenko, general producer of the Odesa International Film Festival, tutor, Yulia Sinkevich, producer Anna Palenchuk and German producer and director Felix Kriegsheim were among the jury members. The winner received a modern DJI Mavic Pro Platinum quadcopter.

Text: Natalia Ivanova