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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Sundance Film Festival presents Ukrainian films

111 films selected out of 16,000 viewed by selectors. Such is the proportion of the captivating selection of films on the program of the Sundance International Film Festival. America’s largest independent film show, the brainchild of actor Robert Redford, opened January 19 in Park City, Utah. These figures were announced on the first day of the festival.

For the past two years, the festival has been held in a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic. This time, the organizers have found it possible to switch to a hybrid format that combines streaming with traditional cinema shows. Characteristically, all streaming ticket packages sold out quickly.

Justice for all

During the festival’s opening press conference, Sundance Institute director Joana Vicente, program director Kim Yutani, chief programmer John Nine and new festival director Eugene Hernandez, a former patron of the New York Film Festival at the Lincoln Center, told reporters what will be on display. spectators as part of the review, which will last until January 29.

As almost always happens, future sensations “come” at the very last moment. Thus, Kim Yutani announced that at the last moment, the documentary section will be completed by a new investigative film by Doug Liman “Justice” (Justice). It recounts the allegations against Bret Kavanaugh, who became a member of the united states Supreme Court, despite the sexual harassment allegations.

“We always have something up our sleeves,” Yutani said. She said she is confident that the screenings of “Justice” will spark discussion.

One such surprise last year was the documentary Navalny, about the story of the Kremlin secret service’s poisoning of Russia’s leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny. It was directed by young Canadian director Daniel Roer. Navalny is shortlisted for the Oscars in the documentary category and acquired by CNN and HBO Max.

“Justice” director Doug Liman released a statement expressing his belief in the importance of speaking honestly and openly about the allegations against Kavanaugh. Thanks to “a fantastic crew and brave souls,” Lyman said, the film was able to pick up and expand on an FBI investigation that many believe was wrongfully cut short.

“The film examines litigation and court proceedings,” Lyman continued, “highlighting the bureaucratic errors and crude political pressures that continue to disproportionately impact our society. Sundance has helped me and many independent filmmakers a lot in our work, which is why coming here with my first documentary is so important to me.

First after first

Eleven films from various genres became world premieres on the first day of the show.

The Longest Goodbye is a documentary about a NASA psychologist preparing future astronauts for social isolation on a planned mission to Mars.

Another documentary, Little Richard: I Am Everything, highlights the outlandish personality of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, whose life has been a struggle for the right to self-expression.

For years, Kim’s Video has been a bohemian landmark in Greenwich Village. Where did the collection of 55,000 videos go, the authors of the documentary “Kim’s Video” tried to find out.

At the center of the game, the Australian melodrama Shayda is the relationship between a young Iranian mother and her 6-year-old daughter, who finds herself in a women’s shelter in Australia for two weeks of the Iranian New Year.

Sundance’s much-loved thriller/horror genre is represented by the premiere of horror film Birth/Rebirth, about a mortuary worker who brings a nurse’s daughter back to life. Director Laura Moss was clearly inspired by the classic Frankenstein mythos.

A scene from the movie
A scene from the movie “Born Again”.

The office love story was directed by Rachel Lambert in Sometimes I Think About Dying. The tape with Daisy Ridley in the title role is included in the competition section of American feature films.

In the competition section of world feature films, viewers will see the Lithuanian film Slow directed by Maria Kavtaradze. Dancer Elena meets Dovydas, who serves as a sign language interpreter for her deaf-mute dance class. Their rapprochement quickly passes through a platonic phase, but the unexpected confessions of Dovydas force them to seek a compromise intended to save their relationship.

A scene from the movie Slowly.
A scene from the movie Slowly.
Maria Kavtaradze is considered one of the brightest young talents in Lithuania. She graduated from the film department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater in 2014. Her first film, Summer Survivors, was screened in 2018 at the Toronto Film Festival.

Ukrainian angle

For the first time at the Sundance festival, two films representing Ukraine are simultaneously taking part in the World Documentary Competition program.

“20 Days in Mariupol” (20 Days in Mariupol) was filmed by a group of Ukrainian documentarians and journalists at the very beginning of Russia‘s full-scale war against Ukraine. Director Mstislav Chernov, along with his colleagues Yevgeny Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko, fearlessly chronicled the siege and capture of Mariupol by Russian aggressors. They are the only columnist-reporters who have managed to film the horrors of war in this Ukrainian port city, practically destroyed by the barbaric rocket attacks and Russian bombardments.

From the movie
From the movie “20 Days in Mariupol”.

As reported on the website of the international journalist network IJnet, the Kremlin reacted sharply to the reports by Chernov’s film crew, accusing the journalists of “information terrorism”. Russian soldiers reportedly chased Chernov, Maloletka and Stepanenko to force them to recant. The journalists had to leave town after sniper and tank fire pushed them into the hospital building.

This film is a joint project of the Associated Press and the PBS program “Frontline”. Mstislav Chernov is a war correspondent, director, photographer and writer. He is known for his reporting on Euromaidan, military operations in Iraq, Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Afghanistan, as well as for his art installations and exhibitions. Chernov is the president of the Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers.


READ: Ukraine as the most sought-after destination for sex tourism


The second Ukrainian film Iron Butterflies was directed by Roman Liubyi. It reconstructs the crash of a Malaysian Boeing 757 shot down in the Donbass by a Russian Buk in 2014. In the accident, all passengers and crew members, 298 people from different countries, died.

Roman Lyuby started as a Maidan columnist in the Babylon’13 group, his short films were included in the Stronger Than Weapons and Euromaidan almanacs. Roman’s first feature film “War Note” (2020) is recognized as one of the best non-fiction films about the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“Our film reflects a lot,” Roman Lyuby told Euronews. “It’s not just about the event itself, the crash (of the liner), but also its aftermath, how this event has changed the news and media ecosystem around the world .”

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The Eastern Herald’s Editorial Board validates, writes, and publishes the stories under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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