The terrible attack of Russia on Ukraine leads us all to ask ourselves what can we do to help the Ukrainian people. What can we do when we are feeling so powerless in the face of such news?
Independent cinemas provide spaces for conversations and to show the diversity in our societies. As a public space, The Electric Palace Cinema stands in solidarity with Ukraine and with all the people committed to a peaceful and civil society. We resist descending into nationalistic ideals of traitors and enemies by supporting filmmakers who, with talent and sensitivity, bravely continue to ask questions of the world.
We hope to warmly breathe a sense of hope into our increasingly uncertain times. Democracy and freedom are strong and achievable ideals that we can actively defend within our own communities by participating in ongoing thinking, questioning and talking. Cultural and creative dialogue is perhaps is part of the key to peace when and if it comes, through deepening our understandings of each other. In this way, we can come together and participate in a living democracy.
Films to celebrate Ukraine
Filmmakers from Ukraine as well as Russia have asked us not to look away from this complicated war. The series of films in the coming weeks is our attempt to respond to this call with discussion and a sharing of thoughts. We have selected three films that offer an insight into the vast, complex land of Ukraine.
All ticket money will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal.
Man with a Movie Camera
Sunday 24th April, 7.30pm
Filmed in Kyiv, Ukraine, this is a breath-taking paean to cinema and a dazzling exploration of the possibilities of image-making in the everyday world. The score from 2003 by The Cinematic Orchestra contributes a fantastic mixture of electronic beats and jazz performance. Thanks to Christian Mamo of 'Emerging Europe' for the following selection: Few people realise that Ukraine was an important country in the development of cinema. Its capital Kyiv was one of the cultural centres of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Empire before it. During the proliferation of cinema in the 1920s and 1930s, Kyiv-based film studios managed to produce experimental, avant-garde works which pushed the fledgling industry to new heights.
Born in modern day Belarus to a Jewish family, Dziga Vertov is an under-recognised name in the development of cinema. Spending much of his career in Ukraine with film studio VUKFU, Vertov pioneered several filming techniques which were completely radical for his time – and which continue to influence directors today. Man With a Movie Camera is considered to be one of the most important films made during the first decades of cinema. A silent documentary with no formal plot or storyline to speak of, the film is a masterpiece of purely visual and emotional storytelling.
Vertov felt that cinema at the time was too anchored to the tradition of theatre plays – always considered a radically unique artist, Vertov set out to change the way people viewed cinema as a medium with this film. And the results are spectacular. The film is full of priceless footage of urban life in Kyiv, Odesa and Moscow as citizens became acquainted with the massive technological changes happening at the time. Images are contrasted and superimposed with each other, echoing the time period’s fascination with Freudian free association.
The film is interspersed with footage of the film being shot by Vertov and edited by his wife, Yelizaveta Svilova. Rightfully, it is considered to be one of the most important documentary films ever made.
Encounters short films by Ukrainian filmmakers
Wednesday 4th May, 7.30pm
Encounters Film Festival stands in solidarity with Ukraine. In 2016, The Festival worked in partnership with Modolist International Film Festival in Kyiv to showcase work by Ukrainian filmmakers, it was an honour to introduce UK audiences to contemporary Ukrainian films and its young filmmaking talents. In 2022 Encounters were due to be working with Modolist again to deliver a project bringing together two groups of young filmmakers who identify as female to create 90 second short films, this project is sadly now on hold.
Encounters has curated a programme to highlight, celebrate, and support Ukrainian filmmakers and artists. From a stylised sport drama to a funky animated short, this programme welcomes strong and unapologetic voices unafraid to make noise. All proceeds of this programme go to the Ukrainian Red Cross.
- ECHO, dir. Daryna Kuzmina, 2020, 1 min
- WEIGHTLIFTER, dir. Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, 2018, 30 mins
- THE FALL OF LENIN, dir. Svitlana Shymko, 2017, 12 mins
- MISHA, dir. Kateryna Pavlyuk, 2021, 2 mins
- SISTERS, dir. Valentina Petrova & Anna Scherbyna, 2019, 12 mins
- MY FAT ARSE AND I, dir. Yelyzaveta Pysmak, 2020, 10 mins
- UKRAINE: THREE YEARS OF TRUCE, dir.Benas Gerdziunas, 2018, 2 mins
DIY Country, plus Q&A with director Antony Butts
Wednesday 18th May, 7.30pm
In Spring 2014, following the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, groups of armed pro-Russian rebels in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk seized local administrative building, expelled Ukrainian officials and raised their own flag, called for a referendum and eventually declared independence from Kiev.
Antony Butts first came to Donetsk in April 2014 and met people who became the work-a-day rebels at the barricades while building a new country. As they gradually let him into their lives, he began working on an extensive record of what has been happening in the region - chaos, adventure, geopolitics, opportunism, heroism, and broken lives, revealing the psychology and motivations of these men and women creating a "new country".
Over a two-year period, "DIY Country" captures the origins and evolution of the Donetsk People's Republic in East Ukraine from hopeful and naive beginnings, to hate, destruction and infighting. In the first part we follow the sinister and at times comical mechanics of how our heroes make a Revolution that will immediately eat them up.
In the second part we will see them trying to find a role to play in the new State, as power is once again taken away from the people.
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