Film Troubadours: Scotland and Ukraine

Film Troubadours: Scotland and Ukraine

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March - April 2021


What is the value of amateur cinema? How should we watch amateur films? What is special about this or that movie? We invite you to watch a special interactive online program "Film Troubadours: Scotland and Ukraine" at this year's Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. It is dedicated to the amateur cinema of two countries: Scotland, where ‘unofficial‘ films have become an important cultural phenomenon, and Ukraine, where research interest in vernacular cinema has grown over the past few years.

The program consists of two selections of short documentaries: Scottish and Ukrainian. Both cover the period from the early 1940s in Scotland to the late 1980s in Ukraine, focusing on essential generalizations — techniques and elements typical for Scottish film amateurism, and the evolution of a Ukrainian amateur author, starting from traditional diary entries to poetic statements. Both collections have been co-curated by Docudays UA with two invited curators: Oleksandr Makhanets, the head of the Urban Media Archive of the Centre for Urban History in Lviv, and Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, the founder of the Amateur Cinema Studies Network, a researcher of vernacular cinema, lecturer, and Proctor of the Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.

For each of the short films selected, organizers have created interactive subtitles – these are professional commentaries from the invited researchers that will deepen the understanding of the film and its context. While watching the movies from this program, you will notice the active tags appearing at certain moments of the video. These are the clickable areas that can be either ignored or expanded into a text commentary.  The Ukrainian films are equipped with exploratory interactive subtitles from curator Oleksandr Makhanets, and a number of films also contain special audio commentaries by the films’ authors.

The project’s program will be available for viewing by the festival audience on a free basis, without geographical restrictions. During the festival week from 27 March to 4 April, new movies from the Scottish and Ukrainian selections will appear daily on; each of the movies will be available for 48 hours.

Ukrainian Program

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Greg’s Film Tapes

Director: Hryhorii Porytskyi

In the 1970s, Hryhorii Porytskyi (Greg) was one of the central figures of the hippie movement in Lviv and a participant in the Holy Garden Republic, a nonconformist youth group, which used to gather in the center of Lviv, in the abandoned garden of the Discalced Carmelites’ cloister. The free-spirited youth listened to Western rock music, created artworks, and organized several all-Union hippie sessions. Their activities were in fact regarded as dissident and supportive of anti-Soviet Western tendencies. These film tapes by Greg are dedicated to the company’s home parties, discussions, collective strolls, etc.

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Director: Yurii Kondratenko

Poetic and romantic amateur footage of a young couple in the garden and on a trip — one reel contains several tapes that have been glued together. The film features the author’s audio commentary.

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Walking with Dogs

Director: Volodymyr Trushkevych

There are many types of dogs: small and big, shaggy and almost sleek, merry, calm, and angry. However, all of them have the ability to bring together groups of people, giving them a chance to walk around. This formally simple documentation of such walks invites the viewer to reflect on the surroundings. The film features the author’s audio commentary.

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Welcome to Moldova

Director: Serhii Pashchenko

Traditional footage of a family trip to the countryside turns into a dynamic film about distances. By filming his son, who is holding a ‘Welcome to Moldova’ poster, the author changes the structure of the film and transforms the poster itself into a vivid narrative element. The film features the author’s audio commentary.

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Director: Volodymyr Duda

At first, ordinary home footage of a man’s newborn son has been revisited and restructured into a documentary film by its author, Volodymyr Duda. Many years later, the film will be supplemented with a soundtrack especially written by that same son, now grown up — Yurko Duda, from the band Plach Yeremii.

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Director: Ihor Kozak

A spy film, which resulted from shooting a friends’ meeting with a hidden camera. Having persuaded his acquaintances to play a trick on his friends he was supposed to meet at the railway station in Vilnius, the filmmaker hires a taxi to film his experiment from the car. The film features the author’s audio commentary.

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The Tree

Director: Viktor Kyzyma

The film was produced at an amateur film studio in Kirovohrad region. Its author is Viktor Kyzyma, a local film enthusiast and activist. His movie features a portrait of a folk craftsman who indulges in his hobby after hours. On the one hand, this portrayal of a worker’s life is typical of socialist realism; on the other hand, the film presents a romantic image of country life in harmony with nature and socialist reality.

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Profession: Restorer

Director: Liliia Volkova

The professional’s portrait: an employee of the Lviv Art Gallery made a film about a restorer who’s been working on a 15th-century icon for almost a year. While this film is an important narrative of Lviv’s local context, it is also a story about passing time and thorough work on a small artwork.

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My Weekend

Director: Orest Bachmaha

Orest Bachmaha is a unique film enthusiast and artist. Apart from films, he used to make his own video cameras and projectors. His films mostly focus on the documentation of nature and the environment. My Weekend features sophisticated techniques of film tape processing and a creative poetic narrative about freedom.

Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is held annually in the last week of March in Kyiv. The objective of the festival is to facilitate the respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, to establish an understanding of human dignity as the highest value, to raise the level of civil activity in Ukraine, to promote the development of documentary filmmaking.

The program was created with the support of the British Council in Ukraine and in partnership with the Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe.


Cover image: Still from "Greg’s Film Tapes"