A survey of the strength of underappreciated national cinema and in recognition of the ongoing conflict and to honour the Ukrainian people as well as the country’s rich culture through the art of film. Some of them are a tough watch, but that only reflects the nation’s history. We present nine films from the silent classics of ‘Earth’ to recent releases like ‘Donbass’ and ‘Reflection’.
General Introduction by Michael Brooke:
Although Ukrainian cinema dates from as early as 1896, much of its history is intertwined with that of the Soviet Union, which (especially during the Stalin era) discouraged anything too overtly nationalistic. Despite this, several distinctively Ukrainian masterpieces were made a few years either side of 1930, and a post-Stalin national reflowering in the 1960s. The Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 presented Ukrainian filmmakers with new creative freedoms but also considerable challenges, not least financial and logistical one.
However, a distinctively independent Ukrainian cinema has nonetheless emerged, including the internationally acclaimed output of Sergei Loznitsa and striking individual works such as the sign-language ‘The Tribe’ (2014), the road movie ‘My Thoughts Are Silent’ (2019) and the post-apocalyptic ‘Atlantis’ (2019) – as well as several popular comedies starring the future Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose widely recognised mastery of the media was honed during his previous career.