The film festival took place in one of the most prestigious cinemas of France Le Grand Rex Paris on the Grands Boulevards. Long before the start of the screening the audience lined up in front of the cinema. This scene could be observed during the entire six days of the festival which caught the interest of the French audience and representatives of Ukrainian diaspora.
The festival was opened by businessman and philanthropist Igor Iankovskyi, vice-prime-minister of Ukraine Pavlo Rozenko and the ambassador of Ukraine to France Oleh Shamshur. Igor Iankovskyi reminded the audience about the ordeal of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was illegally convicted in Russia, and called for the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russian prisons. The audience responded with a flash mob with posters #FreeSentsov.
«The fact that we had a full house at every screening in Paris indicates a great success of Ukrainian cinematography. We have been supporting the promotion of Ukrainian films abroad for six years already. A couple of years ago we had a hard time collecting movies for film festivals. Now there is already a real competition between Ukrainian movies. This is great. We are witnessing a revival of the domestic cinematography, and this is indeed a new wave of young talented authors who rightly receive awards at international film festivals», businessman and philanthropist Igor Iankovskyi said.
The festival started with the screening of «The wild fields» by Yaroslav Lodygin, based on the iconic novel «Voroshylovhrad» by Serhiy Zhadan. The film was presented by the director Yaroslav Lodygin, head of Ukrainian State Film Agency Pylyp Illienko, co-screenwriter and writer Serhiy Zhadan, producers Volodymyr Yatsenko (Ukraine) and Miklos Gimes (Switzerland).
The French audience gave a warm reception to this film, praising it with a storm of applause, and it kept the authors for a long time at the traditional Q&A session.
«I believe in the success of Ukrainian cinema in general, I’m already seeing it. When I started working at State Film Agency 5 years ago, I couldn’t even dream of such success. They would ask me why I was joining State Film Agency, because nothing except shame could come from it. It seems to me that together we showed a positive result. Ukraine hasn’t had such level of cinematography since 1980s, when this industry was extensive. Nowadays we are witnessing a powerful step forward», head of Ukrainian State Film Agency Pylyp Illienko noted.
That very evening following the premiere of «The wild fields» in Paris a formal reception took place at REX Club, featuring Oleh Skrypka’s acoustic concert. The frontman of VV band performed both Ukrainian and French songs, mentioning that he had lived in France for almost seven years. Oleh Skrypka took part in the film festival as a composer for short film «Anna» by Oles Sanin dedicated to a famous Ukrainian woman who became the queen of France.
At the opening reception of the «New Wave of Ukrainian Cinema» film festival a monument to Anna of Kyiv, the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, who became the queen of France and a great-grandmother of numerous European monarchs, was presented. A businessman and philanthropist Igor Iankovskyi handed this monument to the ambassador of Ukraine to France Oleh Shamshur on behalf of Ukrainian filmmakers, in order for it to be erected in Paris. Similar monuments to Anna of Kyiv have already been erected in Kyiv, Krakow and Toulouse as part of «A Queen’s Journey» project initiated by Fedir Balandin, the supervisor of Anna de Kiev Fest.
The program of the first «New wave of Ukrainian cinema» festival in Paris included both new films and classical ones. The French audience was presented with feature films: «The wild fields» by Ia. Lodyhin, «Volcano» by R. Bondarchuk, «When the trees fall» by M. Nikitiuk. Classical film «Swan lake. Zone» by Yu. Illienko was presented by the lead actress of the film Liudmyla Yefimenko and Pylyp Illienko, who also starred in his father’s film. Documentary «The first company» by Ya. Pilunskyi, Yu. Hruzinov, Yu. Shashkova evoked strong emotions and even tears from the audience. The screening for children featured «11 Kids from Morshyn» by A. Nepytaliuk.
All screenings were free of charge, and the films were presented by participants of creative groups. The discussion of the films was so heated that sometimes it lasted until the closure of the cinema and then continued outdoors. The first «New wave of Ukrainian cinema» film festival in Paris was covered by influential French media like Libération, Figaro, and AFP (France-Presse newswire agency).