Kyiv, December 8, 2015. On December 13 at 2p.m., the Ukrainian House hosts art event “Ukrainian cinema. 900 arguments of Dovzhenko Film Studio.” It will include a presentation of cinema concert based on films produced at Dovzhenko Studio and Larysa Kadochnikova’s collage exhibition. This will be the third event of the project “Blessed Ukraine. Traditions and Modern Times,” informed organizers of the project at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to the author of the project Oksana Starak, it is a charity cinema concert for which they selected five Dovzhenko Film Studio masterpieces, including “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, “Chasing Two Hares”, “Only Seniors Go to the Fight”,”Bohdan-Zynoviy Khmelnitsky” and “Vladyka Andrei”. The music band of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will also take part in the concert. The audience will see original costumes that actors wore while making the films. The project’s title is not accidental, because “throughout its history, Dovzhenko Film Studio has made more than 900 films, and we consider each of these films an argument in favor of the main idea of our event. This enhances the role of Dovzhenko Film Studio as a symbol of Ukrainian cinema,” said Oksana Starak. According to her, now cinema sphere becomes empty, the domestic film industry does not progress but there is a huge film archive, which Ukrainians can be proud of.
“The purpose of the project is to popularize Ukrainian traditional film, as well as create a platform for sharing experience among cinematic masters and talented young people,” said Vlada Lytovchenko, Project Coordinator and Head of the International Foundation for Cultural Cooperation. She noted that for the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and the 120th anniversary of world cinema they selected five films that make up the festival of world masterpieces. Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s feature film “Earth” also entered this top five.
According to Ihor Sokolovskyi, Project Producer, the idea of the project is, firstly, to remind Ukrainian people about the studio itself. Secondly, this studio, de facto, is the basis of world cinema because it was built back in 1928, and a number of world cinema masterpieces were born in the Ukrainian film studio. In addition, according to the producer, any well-developed state is proud of its movies. “Today Ukraine has modern cultural foundation, the studio, which launched the world of cinema. And we want to ask Ukrainian people, the government, artists, and ourselves, “Do we need Dovzhenko Film Studio or not?”. This is how the word combination “900 arguments” appeared: every Dovzhenko Studio film is an argument in favor the studio importance. We need the cinema, and we call on the Ukrainian people and the government to remember, support and begin developing,” said Sokolovskyi.
Oles Yanchuk, General Director of Dovzhenko Film Studio, said that since the early 2000s a systemic crisis began in the studio, which slowly passed into a “chronic phase of decline.” “The previous government intended to destroy the studio, refused to provide financial support and actually wanted the studio to forever “fall asleep”,” said Yanchuk. He recalled that the studio is located in the center of Kyiv, it covers over 16 hectares of parkland, and the land always attracted the “interested people”. According to Yanchuk, the Azarov government had prepared a resolution for privatizing the studio, as an unprofitable one. “And there was a plan to build a luxury neighborhood in the area, 10 to 12 houses. There is even the first swallow, it is on the corner of Pushkin Park and Dovzhenko Film Studio, on the territory where once was a photofactory,” said Yanchuk. The studio management periodically asks the government to support the studio as it is national treasure, and it should be preserved and maintained. By the way, the film studio has a huge infrastructure and capacity, “over 100,000 costumes, props, more than a thousand pieces of different weapons, from Cossack swords to modern weapons.” However, plans to modernize the studio were rejected due to, they said, the lack of funds, said Mr. Yanchuk.
According to the general director, one of the brakes in this process is the State Property Fund of Ukraine (SPF). Everything in the studio belongs to it, and the studio is only a company accounting for the assets, and has to coordinate everything with the fund. “It seems that there is some deliberate action to destabilize the studio,” declared Yanchuk. As an example, he said that previously the studio had made 12 feature films and 18 -20 television series every year. This year, only one movie was filmed on private funds. To gather the filmmakers under one roof it is necessary to have SPF’s consent and they had to rent the studio at market prices. Now, according to Yanchuk, SPF increases them deliberately. Previously, the Fund required the price of 160-180 UAH per m², despite the fact that the price of renting premises nearby was 80 hryvnias, “and now they want 300 UAH per m² at Dovzhenko Studio. They do it deliberately so that investors do not come and the studio fall asleep forever,” says Mr. Yanchuk, adding that the studio itself does not have the right to vote.
According to Roman Balayan, cinematographer, scriptwriter, producer, the film studio ownership should be changed to a joint-stock company and turned to film factory. But first you need to equip it. Then filmmakers can make movies there, and money on upgrades should be provided either by a shareholder or the state. “First culture, then economy,” declared Balayan. According to him, only modern equipment and state care can save Dovzhenko Film Studio, otherwise it is not competitive. “Unless the state begins to “feed” the studio, it will not work,” stressed Balayan. And it is the community who should provide clear signs to power, says Sergey Trymbach, Head of the Ukrainian Association of Cinematographers. “We live in a time of total cynicism, and we must resist it,” said Trymbach. He stressed that it is time to unite and the action “Ukrainian cinema. 900 arguments of Dovzhenko Film Studios” is a sign of uniting against the forces of evil.
Larysa Kadochnikova, Honoured Artist of Ukraine, who is best known for playing Marichka in the legendary film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, mentions that Dovzhenko Film Studios had been a cultural center and a place where not only Ukrainian, but also the world intellectuals had met. “But I am sure that that time will come, because it is impossible for the studio not to revive. For there are ideas, and interesting young directors appear,” summed up Larysa Kadochnikova.