In the new podcast of the Berlinale Forum, Valie Djordjevic talks with Yuliia Kovalenko, film curator in Kiev and Odessa and part of the preview team for the Berlinale Forum. The conversation took place via Zoom. We had to deal with some technical difficulties, especially in the beginning. In the days preceeding our conversation there were power outages all over Ukraine. When we had our date though, everything was more or less working— at least, after we turned off the video in order to optimize the sound quality.
Yuliia Kovalenko is a film critic and programmer at Docudays UA, an international documentary film festival in Kiev. For the Forum, she is part of the preview team, which means she watches submitted films, comments on them, and sometimes suggests films herself. These then go to the program committee (Joan Aguilar, Anna Hoffmann, James Lattimer, Jacqueline Nsiah along with Forum head Cristina Nord) who put together the final program.
We wanted to take the opportunity to ask her what it's like to work when there's a war going on around you. At any moment, you have to expect air raids when you have to disappear into a shelter. Her answers were quite surprising: as banal as it sounds, life goes on, people go to the movies and make films.
Yuliia explains, how movies play an important role for the self awareness and self reflection of the Ukrainian audience. They give them the opportunity to figure out in which direction the society wants to develop. What happens after the war?
Another important topic we talked about was the question of how to deal with the demand for a boycott of Russian films. Yuliia there had a clear but sophisticated stance. Together with her colleagues, she advocates a temporary suspention of Russian films at festivals and foreign cinemas. This would create spaces for other points of view. It would also undermine Russian propaganda, which uses even films who are part of the Russian opposition to strengthen its own position.
For further reading
For those interested in knowing more about contemporary Ukrainian cinema, Forum consultant Bernd Buder, who is also the program director for the Cottbus Film Festival, one of the leading international festivals of Eastern European cinema, has written an overview text for the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung) in German.
Das zeitgenössische ukrainische Kino und der Nation-Building-Prozess ab 2014
The Forum and Forum Expanded podcast "Bilder Denken" – thinking with images and thinking about images – is talking about the big screen and small displays, what is changing today when making films and watching films and what it means: for our lives and for the cinema.
It is hosted by Valie Djordjević. She is a social media editor for the Forum and Arsenal–Institute for Film and Video Art, as well as a writer, photographer and translator. Most recently she translated the book "Die Berliner Schule im globalen Kontext. Ein transnationales Arthouse-Kino" edited by Marco Abel and Jaimey Fisher (Transcript Verlag 2023).