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Serhiy Yermakov from Ukraine, 14, winner of the top prize in nomination Best Children’s Photo.
The 9th International Festival of Underwater Images Sribna akula (Silver Shark) was held in Kyiv in May 2009.
The venue of the festival was the Budynok kino (House of Cinema), which was decorated with underwater themes with chimerical underwater creatures, shipwrecks and pirates’ sunk treasures. Photographs and paintings took the visitors to the underwater world, and one of the viewing halls of the place, Syniy zal, was showing underwater movies.
It is the ninth such festival held in Kyiv. Underwater pictures festivals are attended by people who make and produce and finance underwater movies, who take underwater photographs, who create sculptures and paintings devoted to the underwater world. Among the guests are people who love the sea.
The organizers of this year’s festival were the Sribna akula group of companies and the company Neptun XXI stolittya. The Kyiv City Administration, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Ecology and the Federation of Underwater Sports of Ukraine provided their support for the festival.
A similar festival is held in France too. Back in 1973, an international festival of underwater imagery, which was dedicated to Jacques Ives Cousteau, (1910–1997; French underwater explorer, film producer, and author who helped produce the Aqua-Lung in 1943) was held in the town of Antibes. In 2001, the first underwater photography and art festival Sribna akula was held in Kyiv. It was rather a modest affair which brought together underwater photography enthusiasts but gradually the festival grew to become an international event.
This year, in the contest that was held within the framework of the festival, took part almost two hundred photographers, film makers and directors, 30 artists from Ukraine, Russia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France the United States and Singapore. Among the works were both purely artistic ones and those which could be regarded as investigative or as underwater research. Prizes were given in seven nominations which included even music and the way the stands with illustrative materials were presented to the public. There were works created by children and these works were also assessed and prizes awarded.
Among the honorary guests were Daniel Mercier, president of World Festival of Underwater Images in Antibes, and founder of the CEDIP/UDIP diving teaching system; Christian Petron, founder of the TV company Cinematine (he worked as director of photography for documentaries shown at the TV Discovery Channel and for Luc Besson’s film The Big Blue, and Andre Laban, a former member of the Cousteau team.
Mr Laban, a versatile inventor, who makes underwater films and actually paints underwater, is going on eighty. At the festival in Kyiv, his films, a film about him and his paintings were shown to the public. Mr Laban visited Ukraine several times and even did some underwater swimming in the Black Sea. His father originally hailed form Lviv, and Mr. Laban wanted to find some relatives but had failed so far.
One of the themes of the festival in Kyiv was protection of the environment and important ecological issues were discussed.
Andre Laban with Natalya Balashova, President of the Sribna akula Festival.
Geert Droppers from the Netherlands, winner of a prize for Professionalism and Unique Photography for his film Embrace Me.
Olga Kamenskaya from Russia, winner of the top prize in nomination Best Underwater Photo.
Andre Laban taking a dive, the thing that he loves to do the best and which he has been doing for many years of his life.
Steve Lichtag from the Czech Republic, winner of the top prize in nomination Best Underwater Film for his film Dance of the Blue Angels.
By Yevhen BUDKO and Anastasiya Kokhan
Photos have been provided by the Organizing Committee