Today the Ninth Odessa International Film Festival opens. Its first edition seems to have happened not so long ago – in 2010, however, it’s strange that it hadn’t opened before. After all, the city where filmed Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Muratova, not even mentioning the masters of a smaller scale, deserved its own cinematographic event. One way or another, 9 years ago, a group of producers based on stereotypes about Odessa as the capital of humor, decided to set up a summer cinema fest for comedy fans. However, spectators themselves adjusted the organizers: Odesa deserves more.
As for today, OIFF positions itself as a festival of art-mainstream that is aimed at films of a high artistic quality and for general distribution. Since 2016 set of competition consists of three sections: International Competition Program for full-length films, National Competition Program and Competition of European documentary films. The organizers have quite ambitious goals – turn OIFF into “Eastern European Cannes”. By the way, speaking about Cannes, as well as Berlin or Venice, a festival in Odessa is the first place in Ukraine where you can watch the latest films from the programs of these credible forums.
Speaking about OIFF credibility, primarily it rests upon the support of the national cinema – not only in contests (our cinema is represented in all three categories) but also upon the festival market, where Ukrainian and western film industries tie up contacts that over time spill over in co-production and in professional experience.
This year’s opening ceremony will be held at Odessa Opera House with all the necessary attributes: With the red carpet and hosts – Oleksiy Panyuta and Yanina Sokolova. Honorary guest of the evening will be Ada Rogovtseva. She will be awarded “Golden Duke” for her contribution to the cinema art.
The film to open the festival will be prize-winner of the last Cannes; it is a spectacular mix of comedy, drama and even thriller “Woman at War”. The film is created in Ukraine’s co-production with France and Iceland. It won the SACD Award at the Cannes Critics’ Week for the best music. It is awarded by the consortium of writers and composers. As well “Woman at War” got the only national Cannes prize – Grand Golden Rail awarded by French railways.
“Woman at War” is the second picture of Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson. The main heroine here is the conductor of a choir named Halla. Halla is already fifty, however, with young man fever, she lives a secret life of a radical eco-warrior. While planning the most daring operation, she receives an unexpected letter: her application for adoption of a child is finally approved and a little girl from Ukraine is waiting for her. Halla is getting ready to break up with her role of eco-saboteur. However, as it always happens in such stories, she needs to carry out her last attack against the aluminum industry that is notorious for its destructive methods of extraction. Initially, producers wanted to shoot in Bulgaria, but in the end, they chose Ukraine and hadn’t regretted. The shootings lasted for 8 weeks – both in Ukraine and Iceland.
The peculiarity of film’s structure is that in important moments the musicians come into play, on the one hand, Icelandic jazzmen on the other, Ukrainian folk trio – Susanna Karpenko (finalist of “The Voice of Ukraine”), Iryna Danylejko and Halyna Honcharenko. The lyrics were adapted by the head of the Ethnomusicology and Cultural Anthropology Laboratory of the National Music Academy Iryna Klymenko, along with Benedikt Erlingsson. It seems that both, jazzmen and our singers are commenting on the film’s events. This is the way it works with Brecht’s theater that for sure had an influence on Icelandic director. This is the structure that, by the way, hedges the risk of slipping into melodrama.
So, OIFF has started. Ahead we have 8 more days of premiers, presentations and celebrity visits. We will be regularly informing you of the course of events.
Text by Kostyantyn Levin