Ukraine’s oldest film festival is back with a vengeance (and a makeover)
Postponed from May due to quarantine measures, the 49th Molodist International Film Festival is now scheduled to take place in Kyiv in the final week of August, combining physical venues with its own online platform. As ever, the festival is dedicated to supporting and promoting emerging talent.
The Molodist Story
Despite its name (Ukrainian for ‘youth’), Molodist is actually Ukraine’s oldest film festival. Its roots go back to 1970, when Kyiv’s Institute of Theatrical Arts organised a festival with 33 films submitted by students. Year on year, the event grew in popularity; some of the most successful Ukrainian movies premiered here. During perestroika, when the USSR was rethinking the economy and private entrepreneurship, Molodist began to attract directors from a wider catchment area: in particular, Germany and the Baltic. 1993 brought a dramatic shift in the festival’s importance: it was accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations (FIAPF), putting it in the same league as Cannes and Karlovy Vary. The star-studded list of past Molodist participants includes Tom Tykwer, Xavier Dolan, Danny Boyle, and Stephen Daldry.
More Questions than Answers
The slogan of this year’s festival is КІНО НЕ БЕЗ ПИТАНЬ (‘cinema, not without questions’). Indeed, most of the films in the official selection pose far more questions than they answer. With hundreds of films on offer – short and feature-length, fictional and documentary – you’re sure to find something that floats your boat, whatever your taste. The opening film has already been announced as Daria Onishchenko’s drama The Forgotten, a Ukrainian-Swiss co-production about life in occupied Luhansk.
The prize categories include the National Competition, the Audience Award, the Film Critics’ Award, Teen Screen (judged by 10 to 14-year-old kids), and Sunny Bunny (for films focusing on LGBTQ+ themes). The winner of the Grand Prix will be awarded a Scythian deer – the symbol of the festival – along with a cheque for 10 000 USD.
A Time of Change
2020 marks Molodist’s 50th anniversary. According to the statistics, it is a milestone worth celebrating: 2 206 films were reviewed this year, 191 of which were submitted from Ukraine alone. In the context of lockdowns all around the world, and the dramatic downturn in the creative industries, these are astronomical figures. Molodist has clearly come a long way since 1970.
In typical 2020 style, the festival has also undergone a complete rebranding. Some things don’t change, however: for filmmakers, festivals like Molodist will always be a fantastic opportunity to connect with others in the industry, obtain financial assistance for new projects, and gain recognition. For movie lovers in Ukraine, Molodist is the perfect way to discover the best new homegrown and international talent, and get a glimpse of cinema’s golden future.
49th Molodist International Film Festival
Kyiv (various venues)
From 22 to 30 August