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Five films about Ukraine nominated for Oscars by other countries

Nadiya DanyshchukNews
Films made by foreign directors

On February 7, a co-production film that was created together with Ukraine and nominated for an Oscar from another country was released in Ukraine. This is a film by Peter Kerekes called The Censor, which tells the story of a world inhabited only by women. The melodrama takes the viewer to an Odesa women's colony, where pregnant women and women with children under three can stay. But the day comes when each woman has to say goodbye to her son or daughter. The women, including Lesia's mother, are watched over by a lonely censor who longs for love in her own life.

On the occasion of the release, Obozrevatel recalled five films that were nominated for Oscars from other countries but produced in Ukraine.

"The Censor" – Slovakia, 2021

For three years, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine filmed women and their lives in an active colony in Odesa, weaving an actress and her performance into the everyday life of female prisoners. They spent time together, lived together, and often reenacted scenes for the first time on screen. Although it was the screenplay that won the film an award at the Venice Film Festival in the Horizons section, where the world premiere took place.

The film stars theater and film actress Maryna Klimova, who had previously worked with a fiction script based on documentary material – Maryna played in the film "Bad Roads" by Natalka Vorozhbyt. The film was the director's debut, and Denys Ivanov was the producer on the Ukrainian side.

The Censor's team visited 12 penal colonies across Ukraine before settling on Odesa. According to the director himself, he interviewed 107 women to make the film. That is why the film is being released internationally under the title 107 Mothers.

"Photophobia" – Slovakia, 2023

Last year, the Venice Film Festival also featured a Slovak-Ukrainian film. It was a documentary about the Kharkiv subway at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, directed by Ivan Ostrakhovskyi, the screenwriter of Censor, and a documentary about the Kharkiv subway.

Ostrakhovskyi and director Pavlo Pekarchyk combine fiction and documentary to show the life of Kharkiv residents in the subway during the shelling through the eyes of two children. For Mykyta's family, daylight is synonymous with mortal danger, and the boy is not allowed to leave the station, where he lives under the constant light of neon lights and his smartphone.

"When we arrived in Ukraine with humanitarian aid in the spring of 2022 and lived next to refugees in the subway, we realized that the world's attention would be focused on the front line. That is why we decided to find what is closest to 'normal life' and preserve it," the authors described the film.

"Olga" – Switzerland, 2021

The sports and political drama was created in cooperation between France, Ukraine, and Switzerland. The latter nominated the film about a 15-year-old Ukrainian athlete who is preparing for competitions abroad while the Maidan is unfolding in Kyiv for the Oscar in the Best International Film category. The girl faces a dilemma: whether to stay and get a new citizenship or return to Ukraine, where her journalist mother is risking her life to cover the events in the capital and the whole country. Like "The Censor", the film won the award for best screenplay at its world premiere. But in the case of "Olga", it was during the Critics' Week at Cannes.

"The Painted Bird" – Czech Republic, 2019

The events of Vaclav Marhoul's black-and-white film revolve around a Jewish couple who, trying to protect their child from genocide, send their son to live with relatives in the countryside somewhere in Eastern Europe. The boy, who becomes the protagonist, is forced to embark on a journey through a wild and hostile world that is governed only by local rules, superstitions, and beliefs.

This story is an adaptation of the scandalous bestseller of the same name by Polish-American writer Jerzy Kosinski. Some episodes of the film were filmed in the village of Svalovychi, Lyubeshiv district, Volyn, and Directory Films joined the film from the Ukrainian side.

"Woman At War" – Iceland, 2018

50-year-old Halla's war is a confrontation with an aluminum smelter that threatens the environment. She risks her entire life to protect the Icelandic foothills. But her radicalism and purpose will change when an orphaned girl unexpectedly enters her life. But before she can fulfill her dream role as a mother, she decides to make one final attack to deal a devastating blow to the aluminum industry.

The film participated in the Critics' Week competition program in Cannes and won the Consortium of Writers and Composers (SACD) award.

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