The Mirages of Freedom

The history of Ukrainian avant-garde cinema dates back to the 1920s and the films by Dzyga Vertov, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, and Ivan Kavaleridze. However, starting from the 1930s, severe censorship restrictions came into play and any manifestations of poetics and unconventional aesthetics were replaced by ideologically correct official cinema. 

The revival of experimental cinema happened only in the second half of the 20th century, first in the 1960s works of the school of Ukrainian Poetic Cinema and its leader Sergei Parajanov, and after its demise – in student, popular science, and amateur films.

The program partially reveals each of these vectors of the search for freedom in cinema. Student films include pieces created by the future icons of Ukrainian cinema, Leonid Osyka and Roman Balayan.

The main locus of the popular science film experiment was the creative team of the Kyivnaukfilm studio, brought together by Felix Sobolev. The program presents animated works of this film studio made in the 1980s, which are marked by absurdity and irony.

Stabilization of Soviet life in the era of “stagnation” and the emergence of light and cheap amateur film cameras led to the boom of amateur cinema. Ranging from documentary chronicles of family life to parody comedies, these “ephemeral films” expressed both the life in the 1970s and 1980s and the tragedy of late Soviet informal art.


A collaborative project with Dovzhenko Center