08 September 2021, 18:09

Cinema is one of the most widespread art forms in the modern world, attracting people across time and territories. Cinema art undoubtedly helps improve diplomatic relations and promotes a state’s image in the world.

Vladyslav Berkovskii, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, joined the debate on “Cinema and Cultural Diplomacy” as a guest speaker as part of the “European Values and Cultural Diplomacy” project.

Reflecting on the role of Ukrainian cinema and cultural diplomacy in the world, Vladyslav Berkovskyi recalled the most accurate, according to the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, definition by Jerzy Onuch, former head of the Polish Institute in Ukraine: “Cultural diplomacy is, above all, selling the image of the country by means of culture”, and urged the scientific community to pay attention to the present problems in this area. In particular, based on his five years’ experience as Chairman of H.S. Pshenychnyi Central State Film and Photo Archive – the only one in Ukraine that preserves documentary heritage – Vladyslav Berkovskii has noted that even today at the international level famous Ukrainian names in cinema – Dovzhenko, Dzyha Vertov, Mohylevskyi – are still less associated with Ukraine, but more, unfortunately, with Russia and the Soviet Union. Acknowledging this, in a sense, blunder of the past and attempts to make up for it by presenting Ukrainian cinema history now and in the future would enable cultural diplomacy to reproduce internationally the traditions and unique qualities of Ukrainian cinema. Typical examples in this context are from “Documents of an Epoch” to Dovzhenko’s “Earth”, “Eisenstein” and others, which were filmed on the territory of Ukraine.

The history of cinema in Ukraine is extremely popular for the film community, emphasises the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, because the masterpieces which have survived to this day are a model for many film directors and cameramen of how cinema was actually developed and what new experimental approaches were used back then. Especially when it comes to the little-known abroad, but much sought-after cinema of the 20s and 30s, cinema of the early XX century, experimental cinema, which used the latest approaches at the time, which today we use in film production as a permanent tradition, but back then they were only attempts: the experiments of Dzyha Vertov, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Leonid Mohylevskyi and other directors and cameramen who made silent films.

“During my years of working in the Film and Photo Archive, I also noticed one interesting thing – when Europeans came to our film archive, the unified film archive, they often cautiously asked a question: “What have you got...?”. It is common for them to perceive that there is only one film archive in the post-Soviet space – in Russia in Krasnohorsk or the archive of state television and radio in Bili Stovpy, while all the rest is something like periphery. And when they start communicating with us, when they enter Ukraine or when we offer and post videos on various network platforms, when we consciously promote these things – suddenly a discovery is made, a film discovery of Ukraine, that Ukraine turns out to be not only the period of the 1990s and the present, that in fact it is much bigger and deeper. It includes various genre films, documentaries, silent films, experiments made by Kinooko film society”, Vladyslav Berkovskii said.

The Head of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation also noted that, after all, Ukraine is quite interesting and currently in demand even from the point of view of the fact that we have preserved a significant amount of unique material that is absolutely unknown to Europe and to the film market and film industry.

See more in the speech by Vladyslav Berkovskii, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, at the event “Cinema and Cultural Diplomacy” as part of the project “European Values and Cultural Diplomacy: Youth Meetings”: https://youtu.be/Js-CHAih-40

The invited guests and participants in the discussion also included: Olha Ivanova, Head of the Department of Communications and Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine; Tetiana Filevska, Acting Director General of the Ukrainian Institute; Ihor Dolhov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in Georgia; Benjamin Bobbe, Director of the Hanns Seidel Foundation office in Ukraine; Yevhen Nyshchuk – Ukrainian actor, People’s Artist of Ukraine, Minister of Culture of Ukraine (February 27 – December 2, 2014; April 14, 2016 – August 29, 2019); Vano Yantbelidze, Soviet and Georgian theatre and cinema actor, People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR, laureate of the “Great contribution to the culture of Georgia” award; Ihor Ostash, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in the Republic of Lebanon, candidate of philological sciences; Stanislav Lytvynov, initiator of the #CreatingCultureTogether movement, director of the film “Ukrainian Lebanon”; Andriana Bila, editor of the film “Ukrainian Lebanon”; Mariia Moskalenko, producer of the film “Lesia Ukrainka. Uzlissia”, member of the Ukrainian Film Academy, co-founder of the Ukrainian film festival in Tbilisi “Ukraine in Focus”; Nana Janelidze, director and co-author of the film “Lesia Ukrainka. Uzlissia”, cultural activist and former head of Cinema Centre of Georgia.

The event was coordinated by Iryna Matiash, Chair of the Board of the Scientific Society for the History of Diplomacy and International Relations, doctor of historical sciences, professor, leading researcher of the Department of History of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Ukraine, Institute of History of Ukraine of the NAS of Ukraine, curator of the project “European Values and Cultural Diplomacy: Youth Meetings”

Let us remind, that the project is implemented with the support of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs based on the resolution of Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany through Hanns Seidel Foundation in Ukraine.

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