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Molodist Film Festival

 

Among the few film festivals that are held in Ukraine, Molodist (Youth) is arguably the only one that can be qualified as an important international and national cinema event. This year it was held for the 37th time in Kyiv, October 20 through October 28. Compared to all the previous Molodist festivals, this year’s Molodist attracted the greatest number of film luminaries, guests and viewers.

Maryna GUDZEVATA attended the ceremonies and press-conferences, saw many films and now summarizes her impressions.

 

General observations

This year’s opening ceremony of the Molodist Film Festival did not differ too much from what became the usual pomp — well-dressed, somewhat supercilious crowds at the Palats Ukrayina Concert Hall; lines to get through the metal-detectors at the entrances; President’s welcoming address; a gala show with attempts at introducing folk motifs.

But yet, there were differences. The Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, head of the jury, was awarded the honorary Skifsky olen (Scythian Deer) prize during the opening ceremony.

I find that the “presentational” character of the Molodist Festival has been improving over the years. Only a few years ago it would be difficult even to imagine that the President of Ukraine would speak at the opening ceremony that film directors of world standing would be on the jury or among those who presented their films (Mohsen Makhmalbaf was on the jury, and Jos Stelling, a film director from the Netherlands of a cult stature, presented his film “Duska” at the opening of the festival; incidentally, some filming for “Duska” had been done in Kyiv).

Among those directors who had shown their films at the previous Molodist festivals were several who achieved considerable international success in later years.

Bruno Dumont, who had presented his first full-length feature film “Life of Jesus” in Kyiv in 1997, was awarded the Golden Palm prize for the film “Humanity” two years later. One of the films of Alain Berliner, who had earned the top prize in the Best Full-Length Film nomination at the 27th Molodist Film Festival for his “My Life in Pink”, was later nominated for Oscar.

 

Molodist contests and retrospectives

Originally, Molodist was designed to be a film festival at which young directors and beginners would be able to show their films. This general idea has remained unchanged, though not all the films shown at the festival are by directors who would qualify for the “young” or “beginners” category (though, of course, how do you define “young”? it’s a very stretchable category).

Molodist is called upon to show and encourage talent. Films shown at Molodist are carefully chosen at the national levels to be shown at the international level of the Molodist festival.

There are three main contests held at the Molodist festival — short films (feature, animated cartoons and documentaries), full-length films (one of the qualifications for films to take part in the Molodist contests is that such full-length and short films should be the first in the film-making career of the director); and students’ films, created by the competitors during their study and produced at professional studios or film schools.

Several factors combined to make Molodist one of the more important events in the cinematographic world of Eastern Europe. Quite a few of the debuts screened at Molodist signaled the emergence of talented directors among whom we find Gaspar Noe, Tom Tykwer, Danny Boyle, Laurent Bouhnik, Oleksiy Balabanov, Shona Auerbach, Denis Evstigneev, Jacques Audiard, Dmitriy Meskhiev, Valeriy Todorovskiy, Francois Ozon, Stephen Daldry, Sergiy Masloboyshchikov, Bilge Geyran, Bruno Dumont, and others.

A number of films are shown at Molodist “out of contest”, plus there are restrictive shows, or thematic shows within the framework of the festival — Festival of Festivals, Panorama of Ukrainian Films; New Russian Cinema; French Cinema Today; From Italy with Love; German Boulevard; Long Nights of Short Films, and others.

Starting from 2003, Molodist Talents Workshops have been held within the framework of the Molodist Film Festival. It is somewhat surprising that such workshops did not begin to be held earlier. The thing is that every Molodist festival brings together many professional film-makers with long experience in film-making and beginners who just start making films. The experienced cinematographers can tell their less experienced colleagues a lot of useful things and they do it at master classes, round table discussions and conferences which are organized within the framework of the Molodist Talents Workshops. Among the well-known film directors who have already taken part in the Molodist workshops were Jerzy Hofman, Kira Muratova, Roland Joffe, Aleksey Herman Jr., Otar Ioseliani, Oleksandr Adabashyan, Irakliy Kvirikadze, Hennadiy Ostrovsky, Sergey Yursky, Vadim Abdrashitov, and others.

Most of the films of the Molodist Festival were shown this year at the cinema theater Kyiv which has modern facilities to show films in two halls equipped at the cutting edge of technology, and to hold press-conferences. This theater is situated right in the center of Kyiv with convenient access to it.

Rather unusually for this theatre, there were milling crowds of young people in front of the theater, many films drew capacity audiences (during some of the shows, young people sat even on the floor), hot debates flared up after the shows. In other words, films shown at the Molodist Festival did get their messages to their target audiences — but these messages were interpreted in very different ways.

Originally, Molodist was mostly a festival at which short-length films were shown. This year, full-length films came into their own, and among the full-length films shown at the festival, several ones were really very good.

I had an impression that most of the films by young directors dealt with social issues rather than personal, private problems, but to be sure one would have to see if not all, then at least most of the films — which I did not. It was physically impossible, even if I wanted to.

Of the films that I’ve seen I think California Dreamin’ (Endless) by the Rumanian director Christian Nemescu was the best. It earned a special prize from the jury. The prize was specially established for this director and his film — the director, who was not yet 30, had died in a car accident and could not be present at the festival.

There were all the signs of the Molodist Film Festival 2007 being an unqualified success. It was definitely a step forward from the previous festival — in terms of the number of films shown, their quality and the number of people who came to see them. I hope the next festival will be even better.

Also, the Kinoforum Ukrayina and Molodist have founded the Kinorynok Molodist company which will promote and distribute Ukrainian films to be shown in Ukraine.

 

Photos have been provided by the Molodist Press Service

 

Some facts about the Molodist Film Festival 2007:

Honorary President of the Festival — President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko

Trustees’ Council co-chairmen — Jerard Depardieu, Hares Youssef

Main Jury:

• Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Iranian film director — head of the jury;

• Grazina Arlickaite (Lithuania) — director of the Vilnius Film Festival

• Iryna Hordiychuk (Ukraine) — TV anchor and journalist, member of National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, member of the National Union of Film-makers of Ukraine;

• Moritz de Hadeln (Switzerland) — founder and director (from 1969 to 1980) of the International Festival of Documentary Film in Nyon, director of Locarno Film Festival (from 1972 to 1977), director of Berlin Film Festival (from 1980 to 2001), and Venice Film Festival (in 2002–2003);

• Anatoliy Kokush (Ukraine) — Director of the company Filmotechnik.

The following prizes were awarded:

Grand prix “Scythian Deer” for the best film — “Band’s Visit”, directed by Eran Kolirin (Israel/France);

Top prize for the best full-length feature film — “Wholetrain” by Florian Gaag (Germany/Poland);

Top prize for the best short-length film — “Ark” by Gzhegorz Jonkajtys (Poland)

Top prize for the best student film — “Heartcut” by Anne Sewitsky (Norway)

Other prizes went to

Short-length film “Bennys Tattoo” by Lisa Marie Gamlem (Norway);

Short-length film “On the Edge” by Artem Sukharev, Mykyta Ratnikov (Ukraine).

Student film “Porno” by Jan Wagner (Poland)

Student film “Botteoubateau” by Marina Rosset (Switzerland).

 

A still from the film “Band’s Visit” which won
the Grand Prix at the Molodist Film Festival.

 

A still from the film “California Dreamin’ ” which
was awarded a special prize established
especially for this film by the jury.

 

A still from the film “At the River” which was
the only Ukrainian full-length film shown
at the festival. The film director Eva Neyman
unfolds a story of a mother and her daughter
who are at a stage in their life, at which
their age difference seems to become
of no unimportance.

 

Head of the jury the Iranian film director
Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the artistic director
of the Molodist Festival Andriy Khalpakhchi
at the final press-conference.
Photo by D. TKACHENKO

 

Co-chairman of the Board of Trustees
Gerard Depardieu and the First Lady
of Ukraine Kateryna Yushchenko
at the Molodist Festival’s closing
ceremony. Photo by D. TKACHENKO

 

Photo by D. TKACHENKO

 

The statuette “Scythian Deer” — the top
prize awarded at the Molodist Festival.

 

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