The 9th Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF), which this year will take place on 13 – 23 October, will offer audiences a look at Ukrainian culture and its processes with the FOCUS ON UKRAINE programme. The programme will include several guest speakers from the Ukrainian film industry, two panel discussions, four film screenings, and has been organised in collaboration with Kyiv Critics’ Week.
Accents of Ukrainian contemporary cinema allow us to get to know the language, mood, and tone of a body of films that is less known to us: from folkloristic and mythological stories and the colourful visualisations of the wild 1990s to commentary on the deep scars left by the ongoing war.
One of the most anticipated works in the section is Maksym Nakonechnyi’s Butterfly Vision, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is about a Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance specialist who, after being tortured and sexually abused in captivity, returns to a world that both glorifies and demonises her, hindering her from building internal and external intimacy. Rita Burkovska, who plays the protagonist, will attend the screening.
Rhino is the latest work by Maidan-era dissident Oleh Sentsov. The film follows a young man’s bullet-ridden journey into the criminal underbelly of 1990s Ukraine, his inevitable fall, and his quest for redemption.
Another Cannes Film Festival contender, Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk’s Pamfir, chooses a different approach to current events in Ukraine: with an ethnographic charge and in the style of a crime comedy, the film mixes mythology, vivid cinematic language, and symbolism resulting in a thrilling screen experience.
The final film in the programme is Oleksiy Radynski’s Infinity According to Florian, which is part of a double bill in the ARCHITECT’S CUT section. The film highlights a modernist architect’s struggle against the giant of capitalism to keep his masterpiece, the Flying Saucer, from being lost. The building is a concert hall dedicated to the interplay of colour and music that has become iconic part of the cityscape.
Several screenings will be preceded by introductions by the organisers of Kyiv Critics’ Week, Daria Badior and Serhiy Ksaverov.
The festival will also feature a panel discussion on “How To Decolonise the Media: Critical Cultural Journalism in Eastern Europe”, which focuses on the image of Eastern Europe in the eyes of the Western media and in the work of the region’s own cultural workers and creatives, while “Westernisation and Eastern European Cinema” will explore the perception of Eastern Europe as peripheral and examine the use of “soft power” in cultural colonisation processes.