Cannes Film Market Unveils Full Ukraine in Focus Program with Selected Filmmakers, Producers (EXCLUSIVE)

Cannes seats

The Cannes Film Marché has unveiled the full lineup of its Ukraine in Focus program which will provide Ukrainian filmmakers and producers with networking, pitching and co-financing opportunities over two days during the Cannes Film Festival, on May 21 and 22.

Under the program, key market initiatives such as Goes to Cannes, Cannes Docs Showcase and the Producers Network will be skewed towards projects and executives from Ukraine in order to support the country which was invaded by Russia on Feb. 24 and has been at war since then. Deadline first reported the news that Cannes was planning a focus on Ukraine program.

The Producers’ Network, organized in collaboration with the Ukrainian Institute, will include six producers, including Denis Ivanov from Arthouse Traffic, Darya Bassel from Moon Man, Natalia Libet from Digital Religion, Sashko Chubko from Pronto Film, Olga Beskhmelnytsina from ESSE Production House and Vladimir Yatsenko from ForeFilms.

Docs in Progress, presented in collaboration with the Ukrainian Institute and Festival DocuDays, will showcase four projects: “Company of Steel” directed by Yuliia Hontaruk, who also produced with Ivanna Khitsinska, Alexandra Bratyshchenko and Igor Savychenko; “Lagoons. Battle for Paradise” directed by Serhii Lysenko, and produced by Anna Kapustina and Oleksandra Kravchenko; “Listening to the World” directed by Liza Smith and produced by Olha Beskhmelnytsina and Eugene Rachkovsky and “Peace for Nina” directed by Zhanna Maksymenko-Dovhych, and produced by Lyuba Knorozok and Dea Gjinovci.

The Marché du Film will also be joining forces with the Tallinn Black Nights Festival to host an Ukrainian Features Preview. Selected projects include “Rock. Paper. Grenage” directed by Iryna Tsilyk, and produced by Vladimir Yatsenko and Anna Yatsenko at ForeFilms; “When We Were 15” directed by Anna Buryachkova and produced by Natalia Libet and Vitalii Sheremetiev at Digital Religion.

Other film projected selected for the Ukrainian Feature Preview include “Lapalissade” directed by Philip Sotnychenko, and produced by Halyna Kryvorchuk – Viatel, Valeria Sotnychenko and Sashko Chubko at Contemporary Ukrainian Cinema; “Lucky Girl” directed by Marysia Nikitiuk, and produced by Yanina Sokolova and Julia Sinkevych at Yanina Sokolova Production.

The Goes To Cannes market strand, which is also being put together with Tallinn Black Nights, will boast projects such as Roman Bondarchuk’s “The Editorial Office” produced by Elemag pictures; Taras Dron’s “The Glass House” produced by Directory films, Contemporary Ukrainian Сinema and Nord Production; Tonia Noyabrova’s “Do You Love Me?” produced by Family Production; Natalka Vorozhbyt’s “Demons,” produced by Kristi Film and Arthouse Traffic and Simon Mozgovyi’s “Chrysantemum Day” produced by Mainstream Pictures.

The market said it will also partner with First Cut Lab, FVG Audiovisual Fund and EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs) to present a selection of eight to 10 Ukrainian features to European film professionals and institutions in order to fast-track the post-production and completion.

“We believe this action to be one of the tools that can solidly contribute to Ukrainian audiovisual productions at this challenging time for its audiovisual industry,” said the Marché du Film organizers in a statement. “Furthermore, we trust that with this direct help, the Ukrainian cinema will continue its existence in the coming months and will make new films visible and accessible to an international audience,” the market added.

This continues the efforts of festival organizers such as Darya Bassel who have been helping other European festivals select recent Ukrainian films. Their objective is to keep Russia’s war in Ukraine from falling out of the news headlines.

The overall number of Ukrainian filmmakers likely to be in Cannes is currently unclear. Ukrainian men aged between 19 and 60 years ago are currently banned from travelling abroad and must stay home to serve their country. That said, Aleksandra Zakharchenko, head of programs and training at the Cannes Marché du Film, said the market is talking to authorities to obtain permits to have some filmmakers or producers attend the event.

Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what Russian president Vladimir Putin has called a “special military operation.” While Russian forces have so far failed to capture the whole country, there has been huge destruction of property and infrastructure and vast numbers of displaced people. Some four million people are reported to have left the country as refugees. U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing genocide after the discovery of mass graves and targeting civilians, and many Western countries have joined a coalition that has imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Cannes has said that it will bar Russian official bodies from this year’s festival, but that it will not ban Russian filmmakers or other individuals.

How much the war in Ukraine will reshape the festival program will become clearer over the next fays. The festival’s Official Selection will be unveiled Thursday, to be followed by the Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight lineups. And Cannes’ chief selector Thierry Fremaux may see fit to later top up the lineup as new material becomes available, as he did last year with a Hong Kong protest documentary unveiled during the festival’s second week.