International film festival in Marhanets to start the film industry in Ukraine’s small cities

Ukraine’s film industry is on the rise. Industry professionals are often the ones to move things forward, the state support is also tangible. Thus, in March 2017 the Parliament approved the Law “On the state support to filmmaking in Ukraine”. Lviv Film Commission that started as a grassroots initiative has been active for the third year now, it is planned to replicate its experience in other regions. Domestic film production is growing. Festivals and film screenings outside of big cities are gaining popularity.

On May 6-7 the city of Marhanets, Dnipropetrovsk region, will for the first time host the Marhanets International Short Film Festival. Its main aim is to kick-start and develop film industry in a small city. Marhanets is an industrial town with some 47 thousand inhabitants, the life in which is largely centered around extraction of manganese ores. The town does not have a cinema house – “Dnipro”, its only, was closed down many years ago. Festival organizers expect the event to also draw the attention to the problem.

Bringing film production to the small cities

“Film production in Ukraine is mostly concentrated in big cities. In the EU each small city has a possibility to shoot their own short films, apply for financing from regional- and local-level budgets and actually get this money. They are shooting a lot each year. We expect that the festival will kick-start film production in small cities and that we will be able to do the same in the future,” said Anna Demianenko, co-founder and general producer of the festival, born in Marhanets.

Festival’s programme and jury

The festival’s competition program comprises the national and international sections. Seven Ukrainian short films run in the national competition section, five shorts compete in the international section. The film list is available from the festival’s web site.

The jury will be headed by Ukrainian film critic Oleksandr Gusev – permanent jury member at the Molodist, Docudays and Odesa International Film Festival. International jury members are Mark Brennan (the UK), director of the Exit 6 Film Festival, and actor Mauro Cipriani (Italy), who starred in the recent Ukrainian-Italian film “The Nest of the Turtledove” directed by Taras Tkachenko. Organizers also engaged local journalists and culture sector professionals into the jury. Festival guests will also have their say and will choose the film that will be awarded the audience prize.

The festival – from concept design to actual preparations –  is organized by Ukrainian film industry professionals. Last year the team successfully held an international short film festival in Kyiv (uFilmFest). Marhanets International Short Film Festival got support from over than 30 local partners – private sector companies and civic initiatives, an MP and two local council members claimed their support to the festival.

Forming domestic audience

Marhanets International Short Film Festival aims at promoting contemporary Ukrainian film product to domestic audience. “Each year more and more [Ukrainian] feature and documentary films as well as short film programs are out. However, should we try and ask the people outside of our Facebook friends list, they will hardly name a few Ukrainian films,” noted Oleksandr Gusev, head of the jury at the Marhanets International Short Film Festival.

“Over the time small festivals may become big and very prestigious,” said Maryna Artemenko, film director, representative of the festival distribution company Letter to Fest.