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Docudays UA heads to the Krakow Film Festival, albeit in a modified format


- Owing to the outbreak of the war, the largest documentary festival in Ukraine did not take place as scheduled and has instead been offered a Polish berth at the end of May

Docudays UA heads to the Krakow Film Festival, albeit in a modified format
Plai. A Mountain Path by Eva Dzhyshyashvili

This year, the largest documentary gathering in Ukraine, the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, was due to be held for the 19th time. This edition was all set to begin on 25 March in Kyiv and should have lasted until 3 April. But this became impossible with the outbreak of a full-scale Russian war on Ukrainian territory.

The organisers of the Krakow Film Festival (KFF) then decided to support their Ukrainian friends and hold part of Docudays UA in Krakow’s modernist Kijów (the Polish name for Kyiv) Cinema. The head of KFF’s Programme department, Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, says that she thought about the fate of her Ukrainian colleagues right from the very first moments of the Russian invasion. “We quickly decided to invite the Docudays UA Festival to Krakow in a completely different form than before.”

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Docudays UA announced its national competition programme one day before the Russian offensive. The DOCU/UKRAINE programme will be on show at the Krakow Film Festival in late May and early June, in order to spark a discussion on the Ukrainian reality and the country’s culture. The programme includes Plai. A Mountain Path by Eva Dzhyshyashvili, Mountains and Heaven in Between by Dmytro Hreshko, Pryvoz by Eva Neymann and Infinity According to Florian by Oleksiy Radynski.

In addition, as far as possible, the KFF will invite along the organisers of Docudays UA and the filmmakers behind the competing films, which will be judged by an international jury, while the awards will be handed out during the closing gala. The movies screened in Krakow will be treated as domestic (Ukrainian) premieres, allowing them to maintain the status of international premieres and provide their creators with an unhindered path in order to apply to other prestigious film events. This information was reported on the KFF website.

Orlicz-Szczypuła adds: “We have been in constant contact with the organisers of Docudays UA, who – unfortunately – remain in the most vulnerable regions of Ukraine. However, we were relieved to learn that several of them have managed to safely get to Poland.”

Darya Bassel, programmer at Docudays UA, notes: “This small but incredibly powerful programme has united these auteurs, who see the reality deeply, poignantly, and with humour and love. And their work fills me with faith, not only in the great future of our documentary filmmaking, but in the future in general. And it’s still the case. I’m happy that these films will be shown to viewers on the big screen in the Kijów Cinema, and I hope that by the time the screenings take place, our country will be free from Russian terrorists. And we will all be able to celebrate love, courage and freedom together.”

Krzysztof Gierat, the director of the Krakow Film Festival, spent several hours watching these films “with a heavy heart” and concluded, “They show the Ukraine from before this criminal attack, but the echoes of the war in Crimea are present there, and the threat to the entire country is becoming increasingly real. It’s very painful when I try to imagine these places and these people now. I believe that we will show these films together with our friends from Kyiv and talk to their creators after the screenings. The presence of films, projects and guests from Ukraine will be an expression of the Polish and international film community’s solidarity with our neighbours.”

The entirety of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Docudays UA Festival. The Krakow Film Festival will be held in the city’s cinemas from 29 May-5 June and will unspool online throughout Poland from 3-12 June.

A detailed programme and screening schedule will be available here during the first half of May.

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