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The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

The Ukrainian choice

Special thematic festival of films, devoted to the problems of human rights, was conducted

The idea to conduct special thematic festival, which depicts the problems of human rights, is not a Ukrainian invention – similar festivals are held almost in all European countries. Usually such festivals are organized by public organizations for human rights, they attract attention of the audience by straight-out and exact elucidation of reality, depicting hot subjects of the present. You will say there are many hot subjects like these in TV news? Yes, you are right, but in this case we are speaking about CINEMA, about quite different format and tasks.

The organizers are trying to demonstrate the cinema that would arouse reaction just of the Ukrainian audience, so the selection of films for the opening of the festival has not been casual.

The film of young director Ruslan Honcharov, famous by his earlier work “The Face of protest”, is an unbiased chronicle of the election-2004 events, starting with Donetsk and finishing with Maydan. The author doesn’t accentuate on anything, he gives this right to the audience, which can now, after some time, impartially evaluate the events, in which everyone participated to some extent.

In the program of the festival there are presentations of the festivals-partners: “Human rights in films” (Warsaw) and “One world” (Prague), as well as special projects: “Russia – new language or the Russian existence”, “Democracy. The Belarusian version”, “Democracy. The Ukrainian context”, “Video-report on human rights in Ukraine for 2004”.

The program of the festival consists of about 70 new films of directors from Ukraine, Russia, countries of Europe dedicated to human rights in broad sense – from the right for the freedom of speech to the right for the adequate living standard; prizewinners and nominees of many film-festivals are among the films. All these films are united with the idea of HUMAN BEING, dignity, rights and freedoms: this is the center of attention of all films.

The program of the festival was selected by two criteria: artistic value of the films and actuality of the topic for Ukrainian audience. “Documentary is not a propaganda material or an instruction, it is art, and, at the same time it exists not for itself, but for the audience too,” – says the producer of the festival Gennadiy Kofman. The work of the Hungarian documentary director Peter Forgas “Escape down the Danube” was selected due to its extraordinary artistic qualities – the director compiled his film of old amateur shootings by the captain of the ship “Queen Elizabeth”, who had made a record of the escape of Slovakian Jews along the Danube to the Black Sea, and then to Palestine before the WW2. Despite the fact that Forgas didn’t shoot himself, his style in montage and soundtrack of the film is recognized after several minutes of review. The film got a prize as the best documentary at the Hungarian film festival, and a special prize at the Krakow film festival.

The festival was held in the format of the Days of cinema, the contest program was not presupposed, there was a strict selection and not all interesting films could be reviewed. “We have refused from this practice, and thanks to this the audience will be able to watch the film of young director Olexandra Polunina (Saint-Petersburg) “Yes, death”, which is probably not ideal from the viewpoint of production, but contains very interesting ideas,” – explained organizers of the festival.

The audience had a chance to watch the films, which they could not watch in cinemas, on TV or buy a disc with it at the Petrivka market. For example, the work by Oleksandr Rastorguev “The Maundy Thursday” will never be demonstrated on Russian TV, since this film unvarnishedly depicts the war in Chechnya, and the fact that the characters of the film perished soon after shooting this film reminds us of the reality of all depicted events. Some time ago this work evoked hot discussion among Russian artists: whether bad language is allowed in documentary.

Generally, the problem of Chechnya is a “popular” subject among not only Russian documentalists. The documentary film “White crows – horrors of Chechnya” by German directors Johann Feind and Tamara Trampe from the last program of Berlinare is extremely interesting. The documentalists from Germany used to visit Russia for 3 years on end, observing the main personages that had returned from Chechnya – Kirill, Petia and Katia.

Among the guests of the festival there were Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Belarusian documentalists, from eminent masters like Belarusian Khashchevatsky to interesting beginners, who will introduce their films and communicate with the audience.

The films presented at the festival is not a production of Hollywood, they are not for entertainment, but, at the same time, nobody have remained indifferent, and, maybe, it is the most important thing that could be offered to the audience by the documentary films on human rights.

Viktoria Onyshchenko


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