5th Odessa International Film Festival
Ukraine, July 10 - July 18 2015
The Odessa International Film Festival can be considered the most important forum for the Ukrainian cinema process. In conditions of extremely poor local film distribution, the OIFF gives to Ukrainian cinephiles the opportunity to get acquainted with the triumphs of the international festival circuit. In the “Festival of Festivals” program – the OIFF’s compilation of the most interesting winners of prestigious international exhibitions – the stand-outs are the laureates from Cannes: Son of Saul (Saul fia) by László Nemes and The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos. There is also a representative selection of winners from the Berlinale: Taxi by Jafar Panahi; Body (Cialo) by Malgorzata Szumowska; Victoria by Sebastian Schipper, and Under Electric Clouds (Pod electricheskimi oblakami) by Aleksey German Jr. Of particular interest for the Ukrainian audience is Sundance winner Chad Gracia’s The Russian Woodpecker, which is devoted to the topic of Chernobyl.
Also very impressive is an international competition that can boast works by such outstanding and diverse directors as Dalibor Matanic (The High Sun / Zvizdan); Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente); Ali Ahmadzadeh (Atomic Heart / Madare ghalbe atoomi), and Aleksey Fedorchenko (Angels of Revolution / Angely revolyutsii).
But even more important is that the Odessa International Film Festival is the nation’s most significant showcase of domestic films. The National Competition gives an indication of the situation in Ukrainian cinema, which is very difficult in a time of war and social and economic problems. The main success of selectors of this program can be considered the inclusion of Song of Songs (Pesn pesney) by Eva Neumann, which was selected at the same time in the main competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Captum (CAPTUM (lat. Captivity)) by Anatoliy Mateshko must also be noted as the first feature film about the war in the east of Ukraine.
In the National Competition, documentary films go head-to-head with features. At this point we must note Hot Docs laureate Living Fire by Ostap Kostyuk; historical and social controversy in The Dybbuk. A Tale of Wandering Souls by Krzysztof Kopczynski, and Vagrich and the Black Square by Andrei Zagdansky, about a cult artist of the Soviet underground.
The festival organisers have paid special attention to films reflecting dramatic Ukrainian modernity. Here may be noted a program of non-fiction films about protest movements, “Way to Freedom”, which includes such titles as Qirim by Ksenia Giorno, about the tragedy of the Crimean Tatars; Ukrainian Argument by Serhiy Masloboyshchikov, dedicated to the ordinary participants of Euromaidan, and Rear by Yegor Troyanovskiy, which tells of the efforts made by volunteers to maintain the Ukrainian army.
Also seeming very relevant is the program “Odessa in fiamme: Occupation/Liberation”, even though it is made up of movies shot, for the most part, over half a century ago. The events of the present day allow the audience to see in these Soviet movies, covered with ideological dust, true evidence of the tragedy experienced by individuals and peoples whose normal existence is swept away and destroyed by historical cataclysms.
Meetings with guests of honour of the festival should also be mentioned. Lectures and workshops will feature Darren Aronofsky, Michael Nyman, Srdan Dragojevic, Aleksey Fedorchenko, Thierry Frémaux, Marco Müller and Jim Sheridan. (Alexandr Gusev, edited by Cerise Howard)
Odessa International Film Festival: www.oiff.com.ua