A letter from Ukrainian producer Aleksandra Kostina
To be a filmmaker you need a lot of grit, consistency, and hard work to create and tell great stories in a powerful way that resonates with an audience, using all available resources to bring your idea to life. To be a female filmmaker means to work twice as hard. And to be a female filmmaker in a war-torn country is to make life-changing choices each day. Ukrainian filmmakers nowadays are forced to use their communication, leadership, creative thinking and organizational skills not to lead and develop film projects, but to find a safe place for kids and old parents, to rescue family members trapped in the war zones, to supply army and civilians according to their needs, to help people in need and defend our country in all possible ways. Premiere of my producers debut fiction feature PAMFIR in Directors’ Fortnight this May in Cannes was a surreal experience. As it’s impossible to believe, that the rest of the world continues to live a normal life, when our world changed so dramatically and our lives will never be the same again. As it’s mentioned on your website, the strength of WIFTI is based on the strength coming from every member of every chapter all around the world. I really believe in it, and I’m grateful for this possibility to speak to you, and to ask you to reunite all forces to find the way to support Ukraine.
Since the Russian Federation has been waging war against Ukraine all public financial sources were reallocated to the army support and humanitarian needs. And in the following 3-5 years they will be spent to rebuild hospitals, roads, schools, and to provide care for those who need it. Ukrainian State Film Agency, and other public funding initiatives have dried up and will not have opportunity to ensure the existence of the film industry. The last decade was marked by the rise of a new wave of Ukrainian filmmakers. It was bright, diverse and strongly represented by female talent. Films of Yelizaveta Smith (School #3), Kateryna Gornostai (Stop-Zemlia), Alina Gorlova (This Rain Will Never Stop), Iryna Tsilyk (The Earth Is Blue as an Orange), Maryna Er Gorbach (Klondike), Nadia Parfan (Heat Singers), Marysia Nikitiuk (When The Trees Fall), Marina Stepanska (Falling), and other great Ukrainian authors were premiered and awarded at the festivals all over the world (Berlinale, Sundance, IDFA, Karlovy Vary, Visions Du Reel). And now the future of Ukrainian cinema is uncertain. We need your help to save the modern and diverse community of talented people.
In Cannes I was asked lots of times about the way, how the world can support Ukrainian filmmakers in their work continuing, and here are possible ways to make it happen:
- to check the Ukrainian State Film Agency initiatives by the following link https://usfa.gov.ua/stand-with-ukraine
- to create additional funding initiatives with minimum budgets for development and support of co-productions with Ukraine;
- to help Ukraine receive the full-membership status in Creative Europe with a possibility to apply for all MEDIA programs without exception;
- to abolish the mandatory condition for Ukrainian projects to have secured financing from local public fund to apply for co-production support to European film funds and Eurimages;
- to create a base for Ukrainian professionals who were replaced to other countries, and to give them a chance, to be hired by your company
- to check the list of Ukrainian films at the final stage of production as a possibility to find an interesting project for co-production https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yk-YeVyblESfyNebTCeWXhmvfhqDWN_d/view
- to support local documentary films productions that are happening now despite the war https://docudays.ua/eng/help/
- to create documentary films in co-production with Ukraine, that can bring unique creative and artistic input in your projects;
- to support film screenings of Ukrainian films all over the world and to present them at the international film festivals to ensure that Ukrainian filmmakers voices are not forgotten;
- to organise residencies for Ukrainian authors, as they don’t have the possibility to work in calm and safe places;
- to support education of young Ukrainian filmmakers;
- to create a special fund for Ukrainian filmmakers, who are defending our country in the army now, which would give them the possibility to secure their film projects in the future.
It’s not about help but a partnership that you’ll enjoy to be involved in. We know how to create the projects that the world is interested in, but we can’t make films right now. To move forward we need your support. Making films is a bridge between realities, a fine thread that binds us with normal life and gives us a hope that one day we can be back to our usual activities. We can’t stop as culture is our strongest weapon. If we do not rebuild our culture, we will not rebuild our country, especially in this moment, when our self-identity plays the key role in the struggle against the aggressor.
ALEKSANDRA KOSTINA. PRODUCER
Aleksandra Kostina is a Ukrainian producer. Graduated from The Kyiv National Economic University in 2008 with master’s degree in Economics. Since 2007 works in the film industry. At first as a line producer, producing TV films, documentaries, and TV shows. Since 2013 works as a freelance line and executive producer on the numerous feature films, mostly international co-productions, premiered in Cannes, Venice, Tallinn and other A-class festivals. Participant of the Midpoint, TorinoFilmLab, Less Is More, EWA mentoring programme, MAIA, EAVE marketing workshop. In 2018 she established production company BOSONFILM. Her debut project as a producer, feature fiction film PAMFIR, by Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, is a Ukrainian-French-Polish-Chilean-Luxembourg-German co-production, developed in Cinéfondation Residence, TorinoFilmLab, Midpoint and premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2022. And her upcoming project is VACUUM by award-winning Ukrainian director Yelizaveta Smith, whose previous film “School #3” received The Grand Prix of the Generation 14+ for the Best Film at Berlinale 2017.