Over the past eight years, the University of Cambridge has become Britain’s pre-eminent showcase for documentary and feature films from and about Ukraine. 

Documentary cinema fosters an open dialogue about human rights and social justice in Ukraine and around the world.

Rory Finnin

Today and tomorrow (November 6/7), the Annual Cambridge Festival of Ukrainian Film once again offers UK audiences a unique opportunity to experience some of the best of Ukrainian cinema. Free and open to the public, the event is organised by Cambridge Ukrainian Studies, an academic centre in the Department of Slavonic Studies at Cambridge.

Since 2008 the Festival has premiered prize-winning new releases as well as provocative forgotten masterpieces; invigorated silent classics with live piano accompaniments; made world headlines with a documentary about Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932-33; and hosted contemporary Ukrainian filmmakers, film scholars, preservationists and musicians who have educated and engaged with well over a thousand attendees.

This year Cambridge Ukrainian Studies is partnering with the Docudays UA International Documentary Human Rights Film Festival to bring six powerful new documentaries to local audiences. DocuDays UA was launched in Kyiv in 2003 as a non-profit organisation dedicated to the development of documentary cinema and to the flourishing of democratic civil society in Ukraine.

Many of the films in the Festival programme confront the tumult of revolution and war in today’s Ukraine with an uncommon honesty, sensitivity and maturity. They avail the viewer of the perspectives of the volunteer doctor, the wounded veteran, the soldier preparing to leave home for war. Other films in the programme meditate upon the passing of generations in a Ukraine very far from today’s headlines: the village and countryside.

“We are very proud and very honoured to collaborate with DocuDays UA in this year’s Cambridge Film Festival of Ukrainian Film”, said Dr Rory Finnin, Head of the Department of Slavonic Studies and Director of the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies programme. “We share their passion for documentary cinema and their belief in its ability to foster an open dialogue about human rights and social justice in Ukraine and around the world.”

“For the Cambridge Festival of Ukrainian Film we have chosen both full-length and short documentaries produced during the last two years,” explained Darya Bassel, Docudays Programme Coordinator. “With these screenings we hope to bring Ukraine and its documentary scene closer to international audiences and to create space for a discussion of problems relevant not only for Ukraine but for the whole world.”

Admission to the Eighth Annual Cambridge Festival of Ukrainian Film on 6-7 November 2015 is free and open to the public, but online registration is required. The screenings of Maidan Is Everywhere; The Medic Leaves Last; Living Fire; Post Maidan; This Place We Call Home; and Twilight take place in the Winstanley Theatre of Trinity College, Cambridge. Wine receptions follow both the November 6 and 7 screenings. 

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