Of all the movies screening at downtown Winnipeg’s only movie theatre, keep an eye out for a few non-English films from across the pond making their Canadian debuts – even if they’re decades old.
For the next 12 months, the Dave Barber Cinematheque will host near-monthly screenings of important and celebrated films from Ukraine’s proud cinematic tradition. The Kinosvit film series begins on Nov. 10 with a screening of the newly restored 1965 Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, perhaps the country’s most-celebrated motion picture.
“Kinosvit is a series of important Ukrainian films, important from a cinematic point of view in terms of the cinema language and Ukrainian tradition,” Dmytro Kashuba, curator of Kinosvit, says. “It is a program of ten or 12 films that represent cinema traditions and the exchange of experience and knowledge between two different cultures like Ukraine and Canada.”
Leslie Stafford, the marketing and communications consultant for Kinosvit, explains the impetus for the program. She met Kashuba a year ago through connections in the film community, where she also works as a producer.
“There’s a lot of new Ukrainians who live here in the last 18 months, almost two years, just like (Dmytro). All of them are very connected and very interested in what’s going on in Ukraine in terms of arts and culture, politics,” Stafford says.
“To be able to offer new Ukrainians and Ukrainians who have been here for decades the opportunity to see the best in Ukrainian film, I think that’s what motivated us both.”
Featuring a diverse lineup of films from the last century of Ukrainian cinema – many of which will show in Canada for the first time – each screening will be accompanied by either a Q&A to encourage discussion or a short animated feature. The first screening will feature a panel discussion with University of Winnipeg film professor Milos Mitrovic.
“The main idea is we will start with the older, well-known films and move towards films of the present years,” Kashuba says. “All the films are famous for their artistic vision and for their editing. The films that are more fresh, more new, they have much stronger political content.”
The series will also trace the evolution of Ukrainian cinema from the mid-20th century era of communist censorship to the more democratized and equitable climate of today. Kashuba mentions the growth of documentary filmmaking in the last 20 years as particularly staggering.
“Ukrainian cinematic culture is one of the first to reach gender equality in cinema. I would say most of the films we will be screening, especially the new ones after the 1990s, were made by female directors,” he says.
“Ukraine was under the control of the USSR, so it would’ve been the Soviet machine watching over them. In the last few decades, they may have had some more artistic freedom,” Stafford says.
Ahead of the show, Kashuba believes the films will generate compelling discourses among Canadian audiences.
“I’m looking forward to making as many panel discussions as possible to get the feedback. This is one of the more interesting things for me, discussion and exchange of experience,” he says.
Catch the first installment of the Kinosvit film series on Nov. 10, featuring a screening of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and a post-film Q&A. Tickets are available online at davebarbercinematheque.com or at the door.
Published in Volume 78, Number 09 of The Uniter (November 9, 2023)