Ukrainian Film Days : A close look at Ukrainian cinema

Three films will be screened, starting the Ukrainian Film Days, an event organized by the Royal Film Commission in cooperation with the Ukrainian Embassy in Amman. (Photos: IMDb)
Three films will be screened today, starting the Ukrainian Film Days, an event organized by the Royal Film Commission in cooperation with the Ukrainian Embassy in Amman. Shown at the commission’s outdoor theater, the screenings will provide audiences with a close look at Ukrainian cinema.اضافة اعلان

Ukrainian cinema history
Until 2014, Russian movies dominated the Ukrainian film scene. That changed after the outbreak of the Maidan Revolution. This protest movement intrinsically altered Ukrainian society and government, resulting in a new generation of directors and producers concerned with reinforcing national sentiments.

Associations such as the Ukrainian Contemporary Cinema Association and the Babylon 13 project were established and documentary filmmakers took it upon themselves to promote the values of democracy and human rights after the events of the 2014 Maidan Revolution.

This period resulted in creations like the 2016 film “I’m with You”, directed by Oleg Turanskiy, which tells the story of two sports heroes who fall in love with the same girl or the 2015 Eva Niemann’s film “Song of Songs”.

2017 saw one of the most prominent amendments to the legislation of the country’s audiovisual sector: 75 percent of the media content had to be in Ukrainian, to restrict the widespread prevalence of Russian language in film and television.

Production companies started producing Ukrainian films in the local language. These attempts to build identity in the film sector were hampered by several obstacles: the country’s limited number of cinemas (one for every 200,000 people), insufficient practical expertise of directors and producers, lack of professionalism in terms of cinematic language, and the inadequate ability to deliver competitive works of art.
With a significantly low budget, “The Stronghold” tries to produce quality visual ... effects while incorporating Ukrainian folklore.
There have been calls for the establishment of specialized film institutes to strengthen technical capacities in filmmaking.

“Homeward” follows the story of a father and his youngest son as they journey from Kyiv to Crimea to bring back the body of their eldest son and brother, fallen in combat.

Originally titled “Evge”, Nariman Aliev’s film is a combination of several genres. A road movie and a political film, it is both educational and very human, investigating the relationship between a father and his son.

Without attempting to make an overtly political movie, Aliev’s debut feature film offers a personal story that inevitably reflects the troubles of history.

The film brings to the fore Crimean Tatars, a people relatively unknown to the public, who had to flee after the Russian invasion. The characters are Muslims, a faith not very widespread in this predominantly Orthodox area.

Aliev’s first film is an extraordinary achievement that succeeds in creating meaningful dialogue that takes place mostly in a car.

He also manages to master staging in outdoor sequences. This is particularly evident during the end sequence, which has beautiful natural light and is set in the vast maritime swamp that is Crimea.

Touching performances are given by Akhtem Seitablaev and Remzi Bilyalov, who play the father and son respectively. The former is a man devoured by grief and weary by a life of pain while the latter is still young, frustrated, and resisting the traditionalism of his father.

The characters evolve intelligently, each influencing the trajectory of the other in a sincere and organic manner. The father-son conflict that punctuates the film creates great cinematic moments.

In one static shot after an accident, the characters engage in a lesson of knife fighting. The fixity of the image makes the acting expressive and restrained.

Another scene, the final face-to-face, closes this trip and combines light, play, and framing to transform their relationship.

Homeward is a beautiful film about family, and how people are never separate from history. It explores the social, economic, and historical reality of a region; it is an allegory of the destiny of the Tatars who are reduced to wandering.

The Stolen Princess” is an animated film by Oleh Malamuzh. It is based on the popular Russian fairy tale Ruslan and Lyudmila by Aleksandr Pushkin.

Ruslan, an artist dreaming of becoming a knight, meets beautiful Mila and falls in love with her, unaware that she is the daughter of the king.

The lovers’ happiness is short lived. Chernomor, an evil wizard, appears in a magic vortex and steals Mila right in front of Ruslan’s eyes to transform the power of her love into power for his magic. Ruslan then sets off in pursuit of Princess Mila in a quest to prove that true love is stronger than magic.

After the tragic death of his father, young Vit’ko develops an unreasonable fear of heights. During a school outing in the forest to see a solar eclipse, he avoids a suspension bridge and gets inexplicably sucked into a rock, only to exit the other side and find himself in the 12th century. Caught between clan wars of a village housed in a fortress, it seems that his appearance is at the heart of a prophecy.
“The Stolen Princess” is an animated film ... based on the popular Russian fairy tale Ruslan and Lyudmila by Aleksandr Pushkin.
With a significantly low budget, “The Stronghold” tries to produce quality visual, special, and narrational effects while incorporating Ukrainian folklore. Certainly, the narration is close to the already existing stories of young men going back in time or projected into another world with adventures and romance.

In fact, it is rather on the side of the geographical origin that we must look for another element, more political. It is hard not to draw a parallel between the 12th century invader and the current tense situation between Russia and Ukraine.

A relatively steady pace allows watchers to fully comprehend a multitude of sub-plots that do not weigh down the story. Costumes, the set design, and make-up are all precise, give the impression that only a few things seem to have been left out. The film does fall short in some regards. Women, for example, are clearly kept aside, taking on the role of foil and romantic characters in a world of men. The plotted romance and the war of good against evil does not deviate one iota. Only the final, of a naive but refreshing romanticism, will be able to astonish.

The Stronghold offers a new imaginary and marvelous universe rather than another prefabricated superhero. It is a salutary change of scenery, even if the film is littered with clichés inherited from American cinema. The entire cast goes to great lengths to make the filmed scenes to be high energy. A pleasant to see movie with the family, and for any lover of fantasy. While it is not impactful, it provides great entertainment.

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