Seven Places to See Ukraine

The locations where See Ukraine-2018 is going to take place
Madrid. Munich. Paris. 7 spaces — galleries, cinemas, art centers — which are rethinked and revived when targeted by See Ukraine. Already in a few weeks, Docudays UA will go to Europe again with its project of cultural diplomacy. It will involve screenings of contemporary documentaries from Ukraine, an exhibition of Ukrainian artists, and, of course, a discussion platform, where international and Ukrainian experts will discuss the concept of this year's project called the Empty Pedestal. Read about what's special and important about the locations where this year's See Ukraine is going to take place in our blog.

Olha Birzul, the curator of See Ukraine

Madrid (October 12–14)

A year ago, See Ukraine already opened the fall season in the Cineteca film theater, which is located in the contemporary art center Matadero Madrid. This year, the project returns here again. And, to be honest, it's my little bit of joy, because I was so impressed both with the history of the theater's founding and with its program.

First of all, it's a municipal art center which was created in an abandoned bull hospital. Today, it's a thriving cultural space where you can find anything, from a theater and a gallery to a rental bike shop. The explanation is that three years ago, Madridians elected for mayor the seventy-year-old Manuela Carmena, who is known for protecting the victims of the regime under Franco. From the start, Manuela enthusiastically engaged in "treating" the city's painful spots. She founded programs to revitalize abandoned spaces, announced urbanist competitions which encouraged socially active citizens, supported campaigns to assimilate refugees and, actually, always actively participates in demonstrations against gender violence and inequality.

Secondly, Cineteca has such stable funding from the government that it never screens blockbusters and other box office garbage. The film theater's program lists only documentaries, auteur films, curated collections and festival screenings. The local bookshop even has books about Dziga Vertov in Spanish!

Iryna Klymenko, the coordinator of See Ukraine in Germany

Munich (November 6–11)

The thematic focus of this year's See Ukraine motivated us to look for institutions which would allow, on the one hand, a kind of synergia with the city's public space, and on the other hand, would enable an open discussion about the complex questions of social transformations in Ukraine. And Munich is actually the place where the announced topic, the Empty Pedestal, seems extremely relevant. The place is an example of democracy and social orderliness. But at the same time, from the historical perspective, it is here that the Nazi regime, in its time, constructed its social foundation, whose shadow is still visible, for example, in such buildings as the monumental Haus der Kunst, or in the Odeonsplatz where the infamous burning of forbidden books took place. For decades, the social challenge was to find the consensus as to what, if anything, can remain visible, and in what form.

The documentary program will be screened in the Monopol film theater, which has its own faithful audience for documentaries. The exhibition of the work of young Ukrainian artists will visit the Lovaascontemporary art gallery in the museum area in the city center. The discussion involving human rights activists and historians from Ukraine and Germany will be held in the University of Munich, in collaboration with the School of Eastern European Studies.

From this city's perspective, Ukraine is very far away, and, however disappointing it is, it's still much farther than geographical markings. Today, when Ukraine is at war, and Germany is trying to deal with new challenges of radical right sentiment, the language of documentary film, art and discussion remains one of the important instruments for coming closer together and, at the same time, coming closer to ourselves, not least by looking at others.

Anna Koriagina, the coordinator of See Ukraine in France

Paris (December 3–9)

When See Ukraine started its tour around Europe a couple of years ago, Paris was the first city to host the festival. And it was met with a very warm welcome. I am glad that this would be the second time that we will show our film program in the iconic film theater in the Latin Quarter, near Sorbonne and the key locations of the 1968 student revolution. By the way, after one of the screenings in 2015, I was approached by an old man who was almost crying. It turned out that the episode where the pavement stones became one of the symbols of our revolution reminded him of his student youth, when he also threw pavement stones in the Sorbonne square and prepared Molotov cocktails.

La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin hosts many festivals and unique retrospectives. It's an independent Paris cinema which has screened arthouse films for more than 15 years. And, actually, it's one of the last cinemas in Paris which still screens films from the 35mm film.

Main photo:La Filmothèque du Quartier latin (photo:


some impressions
In the first days of September, the festival SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR arrived to Spain. The project coordinator Olga Birzul is telling in her blog about the season opening at Cineteca with Ukrainian films, the most fashionable cultural centers of Madrid, the siestas and the engines of documentary filmmaking.

Friday, September 1st

Good morning, Madrid! In the morning, we are visiting the festival location with the Ukrainian delegation and fall in love with Matadero Madrid from the first sight. I am always joking about blind dates. During the two-month preparation process me and my colleague Natalka Shostak have only seen the cinema house on the Internet. The cinema has been communicating with us through its program coordinator Jara, who has turned the See Ukraine preparation process into a small celebration. This attentive, joyful woman is a proficient English speaker, incredibly knowledgeable in the current Ukrainian situation. She has found for us the best slots and helped us with the Spanish posters and press releases, as well as with technical equipment. But we haven't met Jara yet, and we are worrying whether anyone will come at all. The first days of autumn are incredibly hot in Spain. Many people are on vacations.

We still have a couple of hours before the evening premiere of See Ukraine. We remember that today is the Day of Knowledge in Ukraine. Where can we find new knowledge about Spain? In the museums, of course. Siesta begins in the city at noon, and one cannot survive this heat but in the shade. We go to the Prado Museum and listen to filmmaker Roman Bondarchuk's confession that he once pondered on a career in visual arts.

In the evening Matadero Madrid changes completely. This complex turns into a crowded, lively space, where numerous events are taking place simultaneously. See Ukraine is opening the season at the local Cineteca cinema, which, by the way, features only movie classics, documentaries, and author's movies. Even though it's the opening day, the audience is almost full with people, most of whom are Spanish speakers. "What a success", says Jara. "Usually we have no more than one-third of the audience. Just like in your country, we feel strong competition from the American blockbusters". I am a bit jealous. If we had such an up-to-date and convenient facility, we would have no trouble competing with blockbusters.

The people applaud after the movie. The discussion with Roman takes almost 40 minutes. The viewers are asking sensible questions, marking out the filmmaker's sense of humor and clarifying some historical and political circumstances of the creation of "Ukrainian Sheriffs". I am waiting for my favorite question about the "non-heroicity" of the sheriffs, but it never comes. The Spaniards, cultivated by Cervantes, Velazquez, Almodovar and 40 years of Franco authoritarian regime, understand everything without long explanations.

We pass to another premise, which is also crowded. The first day of the festival is closing with black and white mute movie "Eleventh", which was provided to the See Ukraine festival by Dovzhenko Center. The screening is accompanied by the piano performance by Sofia Turta, and the composer Anton Baybakov created an original soundtrack for the movie.

It's already late, but the audience is keeping Anton for a long time. The viewers are familiar with Dziga Vertov and with the propaganda machine that used the cinema as an agitation tool. The audience thanks, Anton and Sofia for the music. "There is no human in this film", the composer says. "But I wanted you to see him". Seems that the audience understood his message. Invigorated with the audience's sincere reaction on the performance, we are wandering the streets of Madrid. Tired but happy.

Saturday, September 2nd

At night, I suddenly learn about tomorrow's closure of the epochal exhibition dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Picasso's "Guernica". This piece has been the most successful cultural diplomacy project at its time. After the sensational presentation at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1938, Picasso was invited to bring "Guernica" to the Scandinavian countries, the USA and the United Kingdom. He went there and collected money for Spaniards, exhausted with the civic war. The exposition, which is telling the detailed story about the tragedy of Basque city of Guernica, Pablo's personal nightmares and evolution of the artist's imagery, completely absorbs me. This iconic Spanish artwork is an outspoken metaphor of our contemporary situation.

The members of the Diaspora are finally attending "The Living Fire" in the evening. There are Ukrainian speakers in the audience. The most interesting thing during the discussion with the movie's director, Ostap Kostyuk, is following the reactions of different viewers. The Ukrainians are admiring the traditions, while the foreigners are complimenting the form of the movie and sincerely wondering why one of the main characters spends all his time at the mountain valleys with the grown up shepherds instead of attending school. After the closure of the cinema theater, the discussions with Ostap continue outside. "Traditions and memories about the culture of our ancestors are uniting us here", one of the viewers explains. Most Ukrainian migrants came to Spain from the Western Ukraine. The viewers are asking Ostap about the common friends, telling him about mushroom picking in the Spanish mountains, complaining about the taste of the local cheese. There is no end to this long evening, and there is no end to the meeting of long-time friends who unexpectedly ran across each other in the midst of a huge bustling city.

Sunday, September 3d

In the morning, our new friends are waiting outside the hotel. Ostap receives a gift that hardly fits the size of his suitcase. All of us are invited to leave our feedback about Spain in the Ukrainian diaspora chronicle. We say goodbye to Ostap and, together with director Sergiy Bukovsky, are hurrying to the museum triangle. The siesta is about to catch up, and we have to hide in the cooling premises of the galleries of Madrid.

By the way, Spanish museums are incredibly hospitable. The admission is free almost everywhere, even at Prado and the Queen Sophia Arts Center, every day from 6 PM (from 3 PM on Sundays). Unemployed people with a special ticket for temporarily unemployed persons can visit all the museums free. The state encourages them to spend spare time on self-education.

Every floor at one of the most popular cultural centers of Madrid, the Palaciode Cibeles, which features numerous expositions, offers special relaxation zones with free wi-fi and fresh press. This museum, which was previously the city's main post office, is free for all visitors.

Most of the expositions are dedicated to the LGBT communities, the integration of immigrants into the city life, and the social projects. If only Ukrainian far right groups would see this center, they would have a collective heart attack. The center is financed by the state and located at one of the city's central squares. It's time to return to Matadero Madrid – the art space that is one more successful example of revitalization. These facilities were once meant for the corrida bulls, who afterward passed into the hands of food industry representatives. After the corrida prohibition in Spain, this complex became ownerless. Nowadays it is among the most fashionable cultural centers in the capital. Each ticket costs like a cup of coffee. The center is supported by the city budget.

We are closing See Ukraine in the evening with Sergiy Bukovsky's "The Leading Role". This gentle and personal movie about the filmmaker's relationships with his mother, actress Nina Antonova, is putting a delicate period in our brief but fruitful cultural dialogue with the Spanish audience. Sergiy elegantly explains why he created this family diary instead of one more epic about the events of the national significance. According to Albert Camus, the historical responsibility is convenient because it removes the responsibility to the people. Personal stories are the driving force of documentary filmmaking. Luckily, the local audience needs no further explanations.

Monday, September 4th

Today we are returning home. I don't know whether we'll have another opportunity to visit Spain with See Ukraine. However, looks like we have come to terms with Don Quixote: no matter how sad his image may be, it was Cervantes who have taught the humans to look optimistically at the eternal contradiction between knightly ideals and reality. I am taking with me some Spanish documentaries. The dialogue between countries should be permanent.

SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR is supported by the Open Society Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation.


comments and impressions
This September Hamburg was the fourth stop on the SEE UKRAINE European tour by Docudays UA, which started in Paris. By the way, thanks to considerable public interest and the financial support of the city of Hamburg, the exhibition of the Ukrainian photographer Alexander Glyadyelov was extended to 5th October. Organizers and guests of the festival have shared their impressions with us.
It was once again amazing to speak to such an inspiring representative of the Civil Society in Ukraine as Oleksandra Matviychuk. Courage, competence and humanity – that is what tired old Europe can learn from the young women and men of the Maidan Generation. Europe needs to support them, because Europe badly needs their spirit.
Konrad Schuller
journalist and author
In only one day on 17th September, during the Night of Churches in Hamburg, over 300 visitors to the Mahnmal St. Nikolai had the opportunity to see Alexander Glyadyelov's exhibit of documentary photographs, part of the SEE UKRAINE project, which ran from 8th to 23rd September. Thanks to considerable public interest and the financial support of the city of Hamburg, the exhibit and accompanying program were extended to 5th October. This positive response is a wonderful sign that the voice of the program could be heard and understood.
Ira Klymenko
Sociologist and coordinator of the project See Ukraine for Germany
In Hamburg I was waiting for provocative questions about the "fascist coup".This is why I brought brochures "Truth against Russian propaganda" with an extract from research of Euromaidan events by Vyacheslav Likhachov, a well-known researcher of ksenophobia and antisemitism. But the audience was interested in other things, like motives of the volunteers or the way people live near the 350 kilometers long demarkation line, and whether we lose our optimism in the course of difficult democratic transformations that have to take place during military operations.
Oleksandra Matviychuk
Human rights activist and a coordinator of the Euromaidan SOS
Hamburg seems to be made of damp. It is a city where you can cross the river through the underwater tonnel, and apart from German you can hear Polish and Ukrainian in every corner. We showed "Ukrainian Sheriffs" there, and despite the fine weather people came to see it. "This is a good film, if only it was more positive!" - this was the first comment after the screening. It wasn't a coincidence for this woman to come here: she's been living and working in Germany for 10 years now. "You see, the whole diaspora has been struggling for people to think of Ukrainians as of serious, sensible people, and now you come with a film that shows such hopeless, horrible things. Aren't there some hard-working farmers in the south of Ukraine? Why don't you show a film about them?" I tried to explain: "But the sheriffs deal with people who are not so well off". That viewer did not convince me that the film was too grim because a lot of people laughed during the screening. It turned out it was people from our diaspora who laughed the loudest.
Kate Gornostay
Photo Gallery from Hamburg
Ira Klymenko
Sociologist and coordinator of the project See Ukraine for Germany

This September Hamburg will be the fourth stop on the See Ukraine European tour by Docudays UA, which started in Paris. The project's aim is to share Ukrainian documentaries that present today's Ukrainian reality to Western Europeans and contributes to cultural dialogue between countries. We talk about Euromaidan, about the information war prosecuted by Russia against Ukraine, about Ukrainian human rights activists fighting for political prisoners, and about the unique volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians for a third year. We don't pull our punches, and want Ukraine to be seen as it is. And we face the same question at every stop: how do you talk about a country where war has become part of everyday life? Iryna Klymenko, See Ukraine coordinator in Germany, shares her experience of organizing the project in Hamburg.


Modernity has imparted upon Europeans the unprecedented belief that mutual understanding can always be achieved, that the strongest arguments can prevail, and that opportunities indeed exist to listen and be heard. At the same time, the history of modernity itself became one of defeats in our attempts to leave brutal conflicts in the past and forge common ground for peaceful co-existence. This ambivalence shows us that the world isn't simple, and that you can't always find unambiguous answers and universal explanations to difficult questions. But it also urges us to not stop trying.

The iron curtain divided Europe for a long time, and it will be a long time still before those borders permanently disappear. It will possibly take longer still for the curtains in our minds to open. The historical experience of each society, each individual set of collective memories, has produced and implanted different forms that shape the fundament for our respective perceptions and understanding.

We know stories from the Soviet era, when intellectuals and dissidents who managed to escape to the West faced suspicion about their stories of inhumane repression and torture. While it would seem that, when it comes to freedom, dignity and human rights, there can be no disagreement, there shouldn't be two opinions or interpretations. But is it really so unambiguous?

Ironically, difficulties in understanding arise precisely where there is the good will to put aside simplistic answers, crude theories and preconceptions, and a desire to see yourself through the gaze of the other. Here, black and white washes out into uneasy greys, leaving questions whose answers are not always those wished for. And we are left forced to search such forms for mutual understanding which are even capable of momentary synchronizing experiences that are radically different in both their nature and content.


The preparations in Germany for the exhibit by Aleksandr Glyadyelov involved, among other things, regular correspondence to translate the presentation of the works and author. It was important to find such wording as would convey their meaning to a German audience without losing the original sense. The process of translation unexpectedly confronts us with new understandings of things usually left unquestioned.

For example, it is unusual to refer to photographers in German as "authors", as this term is usually associated with writers. The choice of the term "author" signifies a departure from an unambiguous understanding: is this a misprint, a mistranslation, or an attempt to convey some meaning? Is this a photographer telling a story?

This ambiguity of translation became an advantage because it opened spaces for the reassignment of meaning. We can separate the "author" from the photograph, who is telling us a story of something difficult to convey in words, needing instead artistic forms of expression, with all their (in)ambiguity, to address such ambiguity in life itself, life in conditions of war. The language of art, which speaks to different aspects of our perception, may become a form able to momentary succeed at lowering barriers to understanding.


The Mahnmal St. Nikolai memorial holds a central place of memory for the victims of war and violence between 1939-1945 in Hamburg. This former church in the city center was destroyed in 1943 during the bombing of Hamburg. It was left in ruins to act as a constant reminder of the causes and consequences of war in Europe, this well known and crucial "never again". Today it hosts a permanent exhibit of black and white photographs of wartime, "Gomorrah 1943: Destruction of Hamburg During the Bombing." Its purpose – reminding us of the importance, even after decades of peace, of not stopping to consider what the everyday experience of war is like, then and now.

How to speak of war? How to speak of war in Europe? How to speak of war in a Europe that is rightly proud of its recent history of peace? This question is posed not only by us, who directly experience war today. This question is also posed by those lucky enough not to face the horrors of war in their own daily lives. Yet, although the questions are the same, they arise in different societies with different historical and personal contexts. This asynchronicity of experience can be an obstacle to understanding, but it doesn't have to, if we manage to pause to also consider the asynchronicity itself.

Glyadyelov's exhibition of black and white photography, which tells the recent history of Ukraine, from Maidan to the war, will be presented in one of the halls of the Mahnmal St. Nikolai memorial. There is just one wall between Glyadyelov's work and the permanent exhibition of pictures of Hamburg after the bombing of 1943, which changed the lives of every family in this city. I hope and believe that this proximity will enable what even the sincerest words can fail to do: metaphorically and aesthetically synchronizing separate experiences to allow mutual understanding, if even for one critically important moment.

P.S. Meet SEE UKRAINE in Hamburg in September 8th – 21st.
Yaryna Grusha
Cultural manager and translator
See Ukraine in Milan: Exercises for Memory

At the beginning of 2016 Docudays UA has started SEE UKRAINE european tour. This cultural diplomacy project has already visited Paris, Athens and just came back from Milan where the festival lasted from 12 to 30 of July. Yaryna Grusha, our Italian project coordinator, tells about the reception of Ukrainian documentary films and photographs in Milan.

To begin with, Italy is a country where Veneto region has recognized Crimea as Russian territory, and similar application is already filed to the Regional Council of Lombardy region. You can hear Russian language at the most famous boutique streets (it has become less often in the last two years though). Local busisnessmen are complaining about damage caused by the economic sanctions. But Ukrainian diaspora in Italy is almost 1 million people, and we were lucky to have a wonderful location for SEE UKRAINE project - House of Memory dedicated to the victims of nazism and terrorism. Before the project opening we had many warnings about possible pro-Russian provocations. All the exhibitions and screenings were patrolled by local police in civilian clothes to secure safety of our visitors. We were lucky though, and there were no intrusions from unwanted visitors.

Traditionally for SEE UKRAINE, the festival has started with a photo exhibition of Aleksander Glyadelov. Fourty black and white photos from Maidan and the battle zone in the east of Ukraine showed the revolution and the war in Ukraine, only sporadically covered by Italian mass media. But we should be honest: this topic is uncommon for Italian media not because of the "Hand of Moscow". Unlike countries with colonial history - Britain and France - local journalists generally don't pay much attention to international news. Italy is quite traditional and conservative country, and usually sticks to the foreign policy of diplomacy.

On the next day we invited everyone to discussion "Where are you heading, Ukraine? Two years after the Euromaidan". With Ukrainian and Italian itellectuals we tried to put back the accents usually lost in the endless information flow. Two young Italians came to listen to the speakers. They plan on going to Ukraine in autumn to start working on their film "Ukrainian youth. What being a young Ukrainian is like". Later we found out that many Italian directors are interested in Ukraine. Another shooting crew member came to "Euromaidan. Rough cut" screening. They have already received finances to shoot their film "From Lenin to Lennon" about current renaming of the place-names and all the burden of Ukrainian-Soviet past. Participants of the discussion after the screening on Italian side were Barbora Gruden and Valter Padovani, Italian journalists who worked at the Maidan and in Donbass, and producers Julia Serdiukova and Darya Averchenko on Ukrainian side. The discussion turned out to be the most imporant of all the festival talks. To tell the truth, information about Ukraine in Italy is still presented mosly in the political context.

Other screenings focused on political issues only occasionally thanks to Italian and Ukrainian speakers who invited the viewers to talk about things completely new to the local audience. For example, films like "Ukrainian Sheriffs" by Roman Bondarchuk and "The Living Fire" by Ostap Kostiuk provided an opportunity to see the Ukrainian south and west documented with their problems: extinction of the shepherd profession and organization of the civil order in a remote village. The audience remarkably compared extinction of the sheep breeding in the west of Ukraine with the situation in Italian Alps where cheese manufacture has decreased.

During our European festival tour we usually offer to watch Ukrainian cinema classics, like black and white silent film "The Elleventh Year" by Dzyga Vertov about socialist construction in the Soviet Ukraine of 1920s. Ukrainian composer Anton Baybakov has created an original soundtrack that was performed live by the pianist Sofia Turta. On the one hand the film speaks a universal language of industrialization common to many European generations, on the other it shows reality of the country as it was a hundred years ago with the eyes of one of the greatest documentalists. It's no secret that "The Elleventh Year" is an excellently made agitation where music enables us to see emotional accents so often ignored by our ratio.

P.S. SEE UKRAINE will visit Gemany and Spain in autumn. Follow the updates at the project's website.
First, the surprising correspondence of main theme with the place of exhibition. There was a simple stand with photos of the fallen Italian resistance fighters glued to it like a mosaic. The exhibition about present Ukrainian struggle for freedom against aggression of the totalitarian neighbour took place in the same space at the House of Memory. It represents very directly and symbolically the continuity of history and our place in it. The second thing is partly connected to the first one. The reaction of members of the organizations located at the House of Memory - the sincerity of it was very important. On the other hand it was a revelation to them as well as to the Milanese who came to see the exhibition how hard this war that Ukraine fights is and how much effort Maidan took. Almost from everyone who shared their impressions with me I heared that the first and perhaps only thing to come in mind in comparison to this was the Second World War.
Aleksandr Glyadelov
I'm very happy that our team did the "See Ukraine" project. We couldn't just seat and do nothing while the Kremlin propaganda machine kept working at its full capacity. I presented the screenings of "Ukrainian sheriffs" "Euromaidan" and discussed them with Italians and Ukrainians in Milano. There weren't many viewers. We were glad when a 50 seat hall was full. A tall Italian came to "Ukrainian sheriffs" screening. He rolled his sleeves and showed "UPA" and "Glory to heroes" tattoos on his arms. Our eyes widened.
- That's Max - said Valentina from Lviv who organized a local Maidan to support Kyiv. - Max has been sympathetic to Ukraine from the very beginning. In december 2013 he started spending his days standing near the central railway station wrapped in the Ukrainian flag. He wanted all the passengers to ask themselves: what is that flag? Why is he standing there?
Max didnt have Ukrainian roots or Ukrainian wife, or even close friends there. One day he just read about brave Ukrainians at the Maidan and decided to support them. He impressed me very much. It was an answer to the question, whether it all was for nothing or not. It wasn't. And to be continued!
Darya Averchenko
PR-director Docudays UA, producer
It was an exceptional opportunity to discover such a wonderful city and to introduce our works to people who live here. I sincerely hope that this screening will enable other screenings of the "Living fire" for Italian public. It was a pleasure that the discussion after the screening (Q&A) was moderated by Maria Grazia Bartolini. The "Living fire" creative crew would like to thank her for her deep analysis of the film. It was a pleasure to find a greatful viewer as well as a considerate critic in her expressions. We were also glad to see Ukrainians and Italians at the screening, because we're talking about universal problems that concern many nations. By understanding these common problems we can unite to solve them.
Ostap Kostyuk


The second part of "See Ukraine: Docudays UA On Tour" took place on 20 - 11 November in Athens. The festival was suspended in May because of the protest meeting organized by pro-Russian forces calling themselves "Greek atifascists". On the eve of the opening on May 13th the managers of the Exile Room, the main festival venue in Greece, refused to host the festival events after radical groups' call for a protest rally near the location. The festival was urgently relocated to the Embassy of Ukraine in Greece.

The fetival team supported by Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece "Ukrainian - Hellenic Thought" has been loking for safe location for several months. The festival was finally organized at the culture center of Webster University in Athens. The program included films "Ukrainian sheriffs" by Roman Bondarchuk and "The Living Fire" by Ostap Kostiuk. After the screenings viewers were able to discuss films with heroes and authors. Discussion "Is democracy in war time possible?" by Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matviychuk and Greek journalist Nick Fragkakis also took place.

"For me the most interesting part of See Ukraine project journeys are discussions after films and speeches of experts on public discussions. For example, in Athens after "Ukrainian sheriffs" by Roman Bondarchuk people mostly discussed how documentary films that show problematic sides of life in the country actualize the work on these problems. Strong reaction was caused by the discussion ""Is democracy in war time possible?" The audience were arguing, whether it is more important for Ukraine to build the nation or civic society that will respect human rights regardless of language, skin color, religion, sexual orientation or gender. I believe it is for such discussions that we should oganize projects like this" - shares her impressions Yulia Serdyukova, "See Ukraine: Docudays UA On Tour" project coordinator.


comments about suspending the second part of the project See Ukraine

Radical leftists baffle Docudays UA screenings in Athens

On May 13, the project SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR started in Athens. On the eve of the opening the managers of the Exile Room, the main festival venue in Greece, refused to host the festival events after radical groups' call for a protest rally near the location. The organizers addressed the Embassy of Ukraine to the Hellenic Republic urgently with a request to host the screenings and discussions in its premises.

In the evening of May 13, while the film "Euromaidan. Rough Cut" was being screened at the opening of the festival, the rally of pro-Russian forces, who called themselves "Greek anti-fascists", gathered next to the Exile Room. After the meeting, a group of young people headed towards the gallery which would have to host the Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Hliadelov's exhibition "Hey, brother?". They threatened the gallery owners and accused them of supporting the Ukrainian nazis.

It is reported that the local radical sources spread false information about the project "See Ukraine", distort the facts and accuse the organizers of the attempts to slander the residents of Crimea and Donbas, although the program contains no films on a similar topical.

"Through the example of cultural diplomacy initiative of the Docudays UA we have seen how the information campaign against Ukraine is being waged and how it is important not to succumb to provocations and not to believe that the Greeks are hostile to Ukrainians. They are not. Pro-Russian forces deliberately create this myth, trying to quarrel two countries with each other. This is why we held the first part of the festival in Greece despite the difficulties," said Olha Birzul, the PR-coordinator of the project "See Ukraine: Docudays UA on Tour."

During three days, the viewers in Athens had the opportunity to watch short films of Ukrainian filmmakers: "Doctor comes last" by Svitlana Shymko and "Sirs and signors" by Oleksandr Techynsky. Moreover, the discussion "Where is Ukraine heading after Euromaidan" was held, involving Ukrainian-Greek experts: philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko, journalist Tetyana Oharkova, Greek professor of geostrategy Nikos Liheros and historian Michalis Varlasa.

"First of all, we were impressed by how much the audience was interested in the discussion. The people had a lot of questions concerning the state of affairs in Ukraine, fighting against corruption, power of the Ukrainian civil society, as well as Russian aggression, causes of the annexation of Crimea and the future of the Donbas, - says Tetyana Ogarkova (Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Hromadske TV). – Also, we talked about difficultues in explaining the pro-European choice of Ukraine in Greece, a country with a strong Eurosceptic background."

"We should continue to do everything possible to convey information about Ukraine to the international audience. It is important to speak of the power of Ukrainian society, the rise of a new Ukraine, and the nature of Russian aggression that threatens the entire world order," said Volodymyr Yermolenko, the member of the NGO "Internews-Ukraine."

The festival team truly appreciates the assitance of the Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece "Ukrainian - Hellenic Thought" in organizing the film screenings of SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR, as well as the Ukrainian Embassy which agreed to host the events.

For the time being the team of SEE UKRAINE has suspended the second part of the project, scheduled for May, 26-28, with the aim of finding more secure venues.
Halyna Masliuk
A journalist and the head of the Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece "Ukrainian - Hellenic Thought"
See Ukraine speaks out against political myths

On the whole, Greeks, just like Ukrainians, receive the lion's share of imformation from unreliable sources. Even so, there is a local saying stating that one image is worth a thousand words. In this respect the festival See Ukraine: Docudays UA on tour seems to be unique for the Greek society and its Ukrainian community. With the help of the expressive cinematic language, the project will share some perspectives on the reality of Ukraine and become a meeting place for experts from both countries, who will talk to the audience about the most uncomfortable and complex issues during topic-based discussions.

Despite the fact that Ukraine and Greece have a thousand-year common history, Greek viewers have very little understanding of the Ukrainian cinema. It is difficult to embrace all the history, which famously starts in the Monastery of Great Lavra (Mount Athos), where the first written record about the Kyivan Russian monkhood is kept. During the year of the Soviet Iconoclasm any references to the importance of Athos for the Ukrainian culture and spirituality were denied. Possibly, because of this spiritual commonality, Ukrainian and Greek community have always worked closely in different parts of the world.

The lack of information about Ukraine is also related to the fact that Greece traditionally belongs to the sphere of influence of Russia. The Greek audience tends to be benevolent to the Russian media sources and has a vague, if not misleading, notion about Ukraine, repeating the myths that the Ukrainian language and state have never existed. For decades, social thinking in Greece has been influenced by the Soviet documentary and feature films which have also systematically been broadcast for the past 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet empire and during the establishment of the independent Ukrainian state. The new waves of the Russian propaganda, which have become part of the so-called hybrid war 2014-2016, make the Greek society even more misinformed. Greece which is also going through a severe political and economic crises is misled into believing that Russia, "friendly nation which shares the same religion", is willing to come to the rescue.

The passionate activism of the Ukrainian community in Greece looks uncomfortable, if not merely incomprehensible, to the majority of Greeks, as this political position disproves the Russian propaganda interpretation according to which Ukrainians in East Ukraine have rebelled against fascism. One needs to cope with this, break the stereotypes, search for information, even change one's mindset. It is really complicated. Why should the Ukrainians be a separate nation? Why should they speak their native language? Why should they fight for their independence? However, freedom and struggle for independence are essential concepts for Greeks. In this respect, Greek Ukrainians' position causes a lot of anxiety in the Greece.

The beginning of the open military aggression of Russia towards Ukraine in 2014 acted as a catalyst for political activism of Ukrainians all over the world. Greece was not an exception. The majority of Ukrainians from different regions of the country became conscious of their national identity. They realized that they want their native land to remain independent, to embrace European democratic values and get rid of the oppressive Soviet legacy. They took to the streets of Athens with blue-and-yellow flags, wearing vyshyvankas and wreaths and holding posters with slogans against the Russian aggression, against the annexation of Crimea and in support of the illegally imprisoned hostages of the Kremlin. They created a powerful volunteer movement and launched an information website. Freedom is undoubtedly above all else for any nation. And now Ukrainians feel proud of their land and their heroes, who are willing to die for the freedom of Ukraine. And the members of our Ukrainian community do their best to inform the Greek society about Ukraine and its heroic people. That is why See Ukraine: Docudays UA on tour must come to Greece.


comments and impressions
SEE UKRAINE successfully continues in France at the moment: an exhibition of the Ukrainian photographer Alexander Glyadyelov goes on, theatres are full for the screenings of Ukrainian documentaries, two discussions with international experts about contemporary situation in Ukraine have been held. Organizers and guests of the festival have shared their impressions with us
The greatest emotional and esthetic shock for me lately was the "Living Fire" by Ostap Kostyuk. It was so truthful, so delicate and unbelievably beautiful. We sat with the French in a cinema and cried. It's been a long time since anything got me like that. The mountains, the light, the pastures, the sheep, the types, the texture, the dialogues – every shot is perfect. The main question is HOW did the film crew manage to convince those severe hutsuls to ignore the camera and act like nothing was interrupting their everyday life? It refers to Savadov and his cool "Donbass Chocolate". These things are so opposite, and both incredibly strong. Find a way to watch this. This is definitely going to become classics of Ukrainian cinema. And thanks Docudays UA for bringing it to Paris. It was worth it.
Irena Karpa
head the Ukrainian Culture and Information Center at the Embassy of Ukraine in the French Republic
When all traditional ways of showcasing intellectual potential of the country come to an end and become silent, cultural diplomacy steps in. Two years after the events that have turned world's attention to Ukraine, it is very important to keep up that interest alive with the help of high-quality material. Before the beginning of the project I was very curious what kind of people would visit our events. After all, Ukrainian documentary films, photos and Ukraine-related discussion are still a rarity in Paris. In movie theatres I can see first of all Parisians who are interested in Ukrainian culture and changes that are happening in our country. In the gallery, where Alexander Glyadyelov's exhibition is taking place, I never met random visitors. Mainly different professionals – journalists, artists – stop by here. The first discussion was visited by both filmmakers and human rights defenders, and this is very valuable for our project. An important topic that has been raised in all spheres of the project is Ukraine's departure from its Soviet past. Viewers themselves raised this issue. West is still to discover new Ukraine. It's great that Docudays UA has gone on tour with this multidisciplinary project, engaging different representatives of French society. This mutual synergy is enormously encouraging and proves for one more time that we are only beginning to take everyone by surprise.
Anna Koriagina
coordinator of the project in France
Feedback was positive, turnout was quite high, even taking into consideration that almost all anarchists (who usually support one of the prisoners of Kremlin, Olexandr Kolchenko) attended not our event but a public protest against restrictions on freedom of assembly and continuation of state of emergency in France. Among other things, we managed to provide information about our prisoners to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and personally Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay, Ambassador at-large for Human Rights, on 29th of January, and to inform them in details about current situation and our main challenges. We have managed to get contact information of local officials who participate in "Normandy Format" negotiations. We will keep them informed about the future developments [in cases of Ukrainians who are imprisoned illegally in Russia – editor's note].
Maria Tomak
human rights defender, coordinator of the project #LetMyPeopleGo
Maria Tomak
Civic activist and journalist at the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv
Maria Tomak is a participant of discussion "The Kremlin's prisoners" (Space Jour et Nuit Culture, January 30th, 3 p.m.)
The Kremlin's prisoners

Currently Russian Federation holds 21 Ukrainians in places of detention. They have been placed behind the bars for political reasons. These people differ by their age, nationality, background and political outlook (sometimes they do not even profess one). Yet all of them are united by one thing: they became victims of war unleashed by the Russian leadership against Ukraine in 2014-2015.

Their arrest occurred in the time period between March 2014 and April 2015. Geography of their current placement is quite wide – from harsh Siberian Magadan, where recently one of the defendants in the so-called "Crimean case" Oleksiy Chyrniy was convoyed to, to pre-trial detention centres of Crimea occupied by Russia, and Caucasian Grozny, where a process over Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh, wrongfully accused of participation in First Chechen War, is going on at the moment.

In some of these cases the court has already reached a sentencing decision. World was struck by the sentence to director Oleg Sentsov – 20 years in colony. All in all, we have already 9 sentences – from 3,5 to 20 years. In some cases court proceedings are still going on (at the moment we have 6 cases like this, among them – Ukrainian pilotess Nadiya Savchenko, and one of the leaders of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Ahtem Chiygoz). Another 6 cases are still at the stage of preliminary investigations (mostly – people captured in Crimea). Most of these cases are investigated by Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, although some of them are in charge of the worthy successor of KGB – Federal Security Services of Russia (FSB).

Most of these cases have another thing in common - detained or convicted people were brutally tortured using the beatings, electric shock torture, hanging, and imitations of execution. Their stay under control of Russian "security forces" in all cases is accompanied by psychological pressure. As a result, investigators can record self-incrimination and testimony of the most incredible things – for example, participation of current Ukrainian prime minister in fighting in Chechnya.

Some cases are astonishingly absurd, to the point that even Investigative Committee of Russian Federation has to drop most of the charges because names of the "victims" and their addresses turn out to be fake and simply do not exist in reality.

Most of these materials serve a propaganda function. Broadcasting information about them through media, the Kremlin creates an image of Ukrainians as "terrorists", "saboteurs", "fascists", and "spies". In criminal cases the relevant articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation appear, explaining strict sentences.

Campaign #LetMyPeopleGo established by Ukrainian human rights defence initiative Euromaidan SOS gathers and analyses information about all these cases, monitors their development, contacts lawyers, supports relatives, serves as communication bridge between families, lawyers, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ombudsman, Russian human rights defenders.

Pursuing this issue for the past year and a half (by the way, in this period by our joint efforts we managed to free one person, Yuriy Yatsenko, from Russian prison), we still cannot provide a 100% guarantee that the list of the Kremlin's prisoners we have compiled is complete and exhaustive. To begin with, this list does not include hostages of illegal armed groups - so-called "DNR" and "LNR". There are several hundreds of them, often held in conditions unsuitable for holding people – cellars, industrial premises, military recruitment centres and so on. Secondly, we can be not aware of some prisoners who are in occupied Crimea and Russia, even with the official status of a detainee, because, as experience shows, Russia can explicitly ignore international treaties and principles of law obliging it to inform Ukrainian side about detention of Ukrainian citizens and to provide access for Ukrainian consular staff to detainees.

Even cursory acquaintance with cases of "Kremlin's prisoners" for people who know about political repressions in USSR elicits a feeling of déjà vu, while court hearings themselves can be defined as show trials. Brother of one of the detained "Crimean terrorist" once mentioned during conversation with human rights defenders: "After my brother was arrested I read Solzhenitsyn's "The GULAG Archipelago" – and I understood everything".

This is the reason why wrongfully imprisoned Ukrainians require support of the world. Moscow has to understand that it is being closely watched and we have not abandoned our people. This is the only chance for prisoners of Kremlin – if not for the justice, which is hardly possible in today's Russia – then, at least, for survival.
Alla Tyutyunnyk
Director of SEE UKRAINE
Why SEE UKRAINE is important for the world?

Ukrainian Euromaidan turned out to be a major civilizational challenge of the 21st century. In Ukraine a clash of civilizations has occurred, which started to change world order that emerged after the Cold War.

Euromaidan and Russia's war against Ukraine forced Ukrainians to rethink their past and future and to realize what country we want to build. At the same time, these developments have put the Europeans before a choice: either continue to observe quietly how policy of hostility is gaining momentum in the world, or to defend their values. However, many politicians in the West still do not understand that the world we used to know is gone forever, and Europe's security is also under threat. They still push for giving Ukraine away to Russia, hoping to get peace and safe space for business instead. They call for this without realizing that the aggressor will not stop at Ukraine and that in fact Russia's war with Europe has already begun, albeit on Ukrainian territory.

What may change these conformist attitudes among influential policy-makers in Europe? Only increased pressure of public on policy decisions. The public that is aware of what is really happening in Ukraine, and of the possible consequences of political conformism.

Russia's propaganda machine understands this too, so in many European countries pro-Russian TV channels, radiostations and newspapers have been functioning for years. And, sadly, many Europeans still think that Ukraine is a part of Russia, while the conflict in eastern Ukraine is a civil war.

How we, Ukrainians, can counteract this? How can we tell the world what actually is happening in our country and explain the significance of these events to all humankind?

Team of International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Docudays UA has created a unique program SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA TRAVELS AROUND THE WORLD. Program consists of documentaries about and photos of Ukraine, accompanied by discussions of films, lectures, round tables, meetings with filmmakers, photographers and discussions with Ukrainian civic activists and human rights defenders. In 2016 the program will visit France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece.

We are convinced that documentary films, photography and live communication offer the best way of quickly and effectively immersing foreign viewers in the socio-cultural and political reality of our country, of bringing the truth about the Russian aggression and showing that today Ukraine is a European state of freedom, positive change and talented people, courageously and selflessly defending the highest European values.
Yulia Serdyukova
Coordinator of SEE UKRAINE