Despite the difficult times because of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, Ukrainian cinema has considerable potential for development and, therefore, a successful future.
A solid base for the further progress of modern cinematography has been created by the achievements of the last century. Ukraine has nurtured a whole galaxy of world-famous actors, screenwriters, producers, and directors. They are, in particular, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Ivan Kavaleridze, Serhii Paradzhanov, Yurii Illienko, Leonid Osyka, Mykola Mashchenko and Kira Muratova. These Ukrainian artists worked in defiance of widespread Soviet censorship and suppression of national culture in the republics.
Opportunities for improvement of the film industry appeared only after the restoration of the independence of Ukraine in 1991. Since then, the destruction of the Ukrainian film industry stopped, and instead, a way out of the crisis and gradual development began. In 1998 there was an excellent opportunity to develop national cinema and film distribution. It was when the Law of Ukraine, ‘On Cinematography,’ was enacted.
In the 2010s, due to technological progress, the format of film production began to increase gradually, which led to a remarkable boom in short films. Meanwhile, the decline of the national film industry contributed to the development of independent film studios, distribution companies, and cinema chains. Thanks to this, representatives of a new generation began to appear in Ukrainian film-making.
Nevertheless, over a long period, the prosperity of Ukrainian cinema slowed down because of Russian cultural influence, which most of the audience preferred.
The development of Ukrainian cinematography began only in 2014 when the illegal annexation of Crimea and the subsequent invasion of the Donbas by Russian troops finally dispelled people’s illusions about the “brotherhood” of nations. Since then, a lot of new projects and talented people have appeared, which has raised the level of quality of modern cinema.
The blossoming process has been keeping on until now. Even though Ukraine is in the midst of a full-scale war, and representatives of the creative intelligentsia should work under challenging conditions, they are doing everything possible to tell the world about their country. Directors and screenwriters want foreigners to see our people’s strength of spirit, power, and will. That is why today, many Ukrainian films are being presented at international film festivals.
For example, in 2022, Ukrainian films won the following awards:
- The Ukrainian documentary ‘Listening to the World’ won an award at Cannes Docs.
- The ‘Why I’m Alive’ by Vilen Novak won medals at two international festivals: the Europe Film Festival and the Future of Film Awards. She also won the Silk Road Film Awards at Cannes.
- The special award from the jury ‘Golden Eye,’ awarded to the best documentaries, went to the film ‘Mariupolis 2’ by the Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravičius.
- Pavlo Ostrikov’s film ‘You are Space’ won an award at Cannes.
- The jury of the international short film competition ‘La Cinef’ within the framework of the Cannes Film Festival awarded the third prize to Ukrainian director Masha Novikova for the film ‘Glorious Revolution.’
- Oleh Sentsov’s ‘Rhino’ won the Grand Prix of the Polish festival ‘Lubuskie Lato Filmowe.’
The people on whom its fate will depend have noted the perspective of the further development of Ukrainian cinema.
‘Ukrainian cinema will have many prospects over the next decade because we have something to tell the world.’
‘Ukrainian cinema will have many prospects over the next decade because we have something to tell the world. I believe that after the war’s end, our state should invest in national films and various cultural projects that would describe all the events in the country. We need to show the pain the Ukrainian people faced because of the war with Russia. The main idea of these projects have to show the world how terrible war and its consequences are,’ says Danylo Vasetskyi, who is studying to be a director at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University.
According to the student, more universities with creative specialities will soon appear in Ukraine, significantly increasing the number of qualified specialists in the film industry.
‘Along with the increase in demand for Ukrainian films, the number of higher education institutions that will provide education to people who want to pursue their career in cinematography should also increase.’
‘Along with increased demand for Ukrainian films, the number of higher education institutions. These institutions will provide innovative education to people who want to study as a screenwriter, an actor, a cameraman, etc. More professional personnel will appear,’ predicts the student director.
Danylo also says that all Ukrainian cities are original and unique, which, according to him, is worth the attention of foreigners.
‘Each settlement has something to show. Ukrainian cities differ, and therefore we can demonstrate their individuality.’
‘Each settlement has something to show. Ukrainian cities differ from each other, and therefore we can demonstrate their individuality. Today, Kyiv and Odesa are well known worldwide, but other cities can also pleasantly impress people from abroad,’ says Danylo Vasetskyi.
According to the future director, our cinema should contribute to forming a typical Ukrainian portrait. He convinces us that we should create films that would help foreigners understand who an ordinary Ukrainian person is: what they do, wear, enjoy, like, watch, and how they communicate…
In addition, Danylo said that Ukrainian cinema has good prospects. He predicts that there will be a lot of films about the war. In his opinion, these movies are likely to interest the whole world because foreigners want to see how we live in conditions of constant hostilities. Other students support his predictions.
‘After the war’s end, after our victory, the demand for Ukrainian culture, particularly cinematography, will be huge.
‘After the war’s end, after our victory, the demand for Ukrainian culture, particularly cinematography, will be huge — both among foreigners and our citizens. Many films about the war will be made, not only films but also works of literature and paintings. All these have already become today’s trends,’ Khrystyna Khodakovska, who is studying to be a screenwriter at Kyiv National I. K. Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television University, claims. She also predicts, ‘Foreigners will shoot movies in Ukraine. We can see that this trend is already emerging because film crews from abroad are coming to the de-occupied territories to create their documentaries. I am sure that due to this, the documentary will reach a new level among the mass audience.’
However, speaking about the development of national cinema, the girl singles out the lack of funding and the shortage of a crew, especially screenwriters, among the problems. According to her, the director often acts as a screenwriter, which is the case with most films submitted for pitching. According to Khrystyna, this should not happen because everyone must fulfil their role.
Nevertheless, the screenwriter student emphasises the potential of the national film industry. ‘Ukrainian cinema has good prospects of development in the future, but the main thing for us is what funding we will have after the war.’
National cinematography will be developing in the nearest future. We have an excellent cultural background for this and exciting stories and new ideas. Today, Ukrainians are obliged to remind the world about the actual value of human life.
We hope that the Ukrainian film industry will have strong and stable financing after the war, which will help speed up its development.