Sheffield DocFest launches Ukraine “solidarity” program with screenings, events

As an expression of solidarity with Ukraine, Sheffield DocFest has announced the “Password: Palianytsia” program for the 2022 festival, an initiative that will provide a look at contemporary Ukrainian life, ...
May 19, 2022

As an expression of solidarity with Ukraine, Sheffield DocFest has announced the “Password: Palianytsia” program for the 2022 festival, an initiative that will provide a look at contemporary Ukrainian life, including the current war with Russia.

The program is intended to create a space in which Ukrainian filmmakers and artists can continue to have their work seen, develop new projects, and keep Ukrainian culture alive. It is also a move to redress the disruption of two planned events by the Russian invasion.

As Docudays UA, the main human rights film festival in Ukraine, could not take place this past March due to the war, Sheffield DocFest has offered to collaborate with the festival on programming and present the four Ukrainian films from Docudays’ own official competition. Docudays UA will also curate a screening and discussion to contextualize the war, looking at how Ukrainian documentary filmmakers have experienced and comprehended the years since the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan) in 2014.

The second aborted event was the Ukrainian Institute’s plan to bring a delegation of filmmakers with works in progress to Sheffield in 2022 as part of the long-planned UK/Ukraine season (the latest in several exchanges and initiatives between DocFest and the Ukrainian Institute over the last decade), which was intended to mark 30 years of the UK’s diplomatic relationship with Ukraine. However, after the beginning of the invasion in February, it didn’t seem possible for the exchange to go as planned. To compensate for this, the Ukrainian Institute will now present three projects in Sheffield’s Works-in-Progress section.

In addition to the above-mentioned collaborations with Docudays UA and the Ukrainian Institute, the “Password: Palianytsia” program will feature other screenings and events across the Sheffield DocFest’s programming. These include four feature documentaries in the Sheffield DocFest official selection, beginning with the world premiere of One Day in Ukraine (pictured) by media activist and filmmaking collective Babylon ’13, which centers on a single day during the Russian invasion; VR, art and TikTok works in the Alternate Realities exhibition; five projects in development that have been selected for the fest’s pitching forum, the MeetMarket; and the presence of a delegation of Ukrainian filmmakers and artists, supported by the British Council.

“On behalf of the entire team of Docudays UA, I thank the amazing people from Sheffield DocFest for the initiative to create a program of solidarity with Ukraine this year,” said Roman Bondarchuk, art director of the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, in a statement. “In the year when the war started in our country and when we have to postpone our festival until the moment of liberation from the enemy, this is an invaluable step. New Ukrainian films and projects — in spite of everything — will be able to gain their fans and jury evaluations.”

Added Clare Stewart, interim CEO of Sheffield DocFest: “The fact that this collaboration has expanded, and is now represented across all of our program, is a testimony not only to the great documentaries Ukraine is producing, but also to the resilience and the commitment of our Ukraine colleagues, who despite the unimaginable challenge of living in a state of war continue to fight for the future of Ukrainian culture.”

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.