Create Culture. The Short Meter Festival in Wartime


Urban Space 100 launched a new grant season, which will be open from 15 September to 15 October. This is an opportunity for initiatives and active citizens to receive funds for the implementation of Ivano-Frankivsk development projects. As for this season, we will tell you about ideas that have already been implemented with the support of the grant fund. The first project is the 2nd 4:3 International Short Meter Festival. 

We spoke with Nadiia Levchenko and Ivan Blindar, actors of the Ivan Franko Academic Music and Drama Theater in Ivano-Frankivsk and co-founders of Ivano-Frankivsk Drama Theatre NGO. Why is the film festival truly “timely” right now and how can art highlight the social problems of a country at war? 

- 4:3 Short Meter Festival received grant support from Urban Space 100. Other projects supported include tactical medicine training for civilians and a war podcast series on Urban Space Radio. Why should a cultural event, a film festival, be among the winning projects of this season?

Ivan Blindar: First of all, this is a festival about movies, about Ukrainian movies. Now we need to talk a lot, invest a lot in the cultural front. This is one of the things that make our nation. It is important to support art, because it is something that our aggressor and terrorist neighbour has been destroying from time immemorial. Therefore, it is now necessary to restore and promote Ukrainian art as much as possible. And not only cinema. But since Nadiia and I represent the theatre and have ties with the film industry, we decided to start with this.


(Ivan Blindar at the opening of the film festival. Photo by Yurii Palyvoda)


Nadiia Levchenko: Last year, the festival was held in a rather intimate atmosphere; it was more of an underground event. But what we see on the big stages, on the big screen, is born from the underground. This trend must be supported, which is why we joined the organisation. 

I got excited about this idea because this is not a “red carpet” festival, not a festival of feature films that we are used to. And I would like this event to make noise. I often hear (and it hurts me terribly) that Ukrainian cinema has nothing interesting to offer now. Therefore, this festival should be held in order to introduce Ivano-Frankivsk to people who represent Ukraine at the global level. Who deserve to be called stars and legends. Their movies deserve a full house; thy should be interviewed, have people take pictures with them on the streets. Because they invest a lot in the Ukrainian film industry. These people should be celebrated. 

-  What has changed in the festival program compared to last year? 

Nadiia Levchenko: This year, the festival is no longer about “concerts”, as it used to be. It is more educational. We added lectures, workshops and panel discussions on relevant topics. These include film language and manipulations in film, which we need to talk about! The people we invited know what they are talking about and what they are fighting for, fighting all these 8 years. 

Now, thanks to the support of Urban Space 100, we can invite these people, the stars of Ukrainian cinema, and offer them a proper welcome. In times of war, I would like to uplift people, to make them see what this fight is for. So that there was something, somewhere to return to. The attitudes of the young people who are being formed at this time are very important. They have to learn.


(Opening of the film festival.  Photo by Yurii Palyvoda)

Our NGO, Ivano-Frankivsk Drama Theatre, was created to offer a variety of artistic movements in the city, and we will provide certain educational activities as part of the festival. We will screen a worthy selection of films, introduce the audience to worthy people, get people excited about theatre and cinema. The competition program is, of course, interesting, but for me, the main value of this festival is communication. 

- And which figures of the Ukrainian cinema industry have you managed to attract? Whom should we grab for photos and autographs? 

These are Valentyn Vasianovych, Dmytro Sukholytkyi-Sobchuk, Irma Vitovska-Vantsa. There will be a daily acting intensive course from Kateryna Hornostay, who made quite a splash with her Stop Earth (Stop Zemlia) before the war. Marysia Nikitiuk offers a scriptwriting workshop. We have experience in multidisciplinary festivals that we used now. That is why the program will include Anatolii Sachivko [Ukrainian choreographer who directed Vodurudu, a ballet film] with both his film and a choreography workshop. There will also be an out-of-competition program. 

Will the events be free to attend? 

Nadiia Levchenko: All events, except for the screenings of the competition program, will be free for the audience, but they will also be welcome to donate. There will be QR codes at each location, and all money from the sale of tickets for screenings and events will go to the needs of Ivano-Frankivsk Drama Theatre. We organised a resistance movement, a relief movement during a full-scale invasion, and we continue to support Ukrainian defenders on the front lines. We find ways to do that, and the festival is one of the reasons to raise money and help. Let’s have a great time at the festival but put it to good use too. 

(Opening of the film festival.  Photo by Yurii Palyvoda)

What events would you recommend as a must, that you would like to attend yourself? 

Ivan Blindar: For me, these are two panel discussions: the topic of the first one is language. It would seem odd: why return to this issue again, when everything is clear already. But there are still people who believe that art is not political. Therefore, we must return to this issue so that everyone can express their opinion. This discussion will feature people from various artistic movements. And the topic of the second is cinema as a means of manipulation, as a means of influencing people. Powerful propaganda is working against us. It has been developing for years, since the beginning of the 20th century. Being a terrorist state, Russia invests crazy money into it, and we have to counteract it. The question is how to resist propaganda with the help of cinema and whether we should also use propaganda. Actually, I would like to attend everything, but I have to choose. 

Nadiia Levchenko: I would like to go to the screenings in the room at the Potocki Palace, to see how the films will look there. It will be a mystery experience. And, of course, there will be lectures about these films before the screenings, which I’d love to attend. 


4:3 Short Meter Festival will be held on 15-18 September. You can find the program of events on the Facebook page of the festival

Primary source: Teple Misto