Ukrainian director Olha Zhurba and producer Darya Bassel are teaming up on a documentary about Ukraine’s refugee crisis after their last collaboration, “Outside,” premiered at Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX festival this year.
The project, with a working title “Displaced,” is being produced by Bassel’s Kyiv-based Moon Man production outfit in co-production with Germany’s Koberstein Film and Denmark’s Final Cut for Real.
Zhurba began filming not long after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, capturing footage of the thousands of Kyiv residents who had flocked to the capital’s railway station for safety. She’s now in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and the site of intense fighting in recent weeks. “The material is very strong. It’s just heartbreaking,” said Bassel. “Even I could not watch it more than one time.”
Bassel, who’s in Cannes as part of the Producers Network’s Ukrainian Producers Under the Spotlight initiative, is looking for financing, potential co-production partners and sales agents willing to come on board in the film’s early development stages.
She’s also a producer on Roman Bondarchuk’s “The Editorial Office,” a co-production with Darya Averchenko (South Films) and Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer (Elemag Pictures), which is being presented during Tallinn Black Nights Goes to Cannes. Also in development is “State” (pictured), the directorial debut of up-and-comer Nikon Romanchenko.
Bassel’s credits include “A House Made of Splinters,” Simon Lereng Wilmont’s documentary which won a director award in Sundance this year. As both a producer and organizer of the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Kyiv, she’s been busily advocating for Ukrainian filmmakers internationally since the war began while also helping to organize the relief effort on the home front.
“We cannot be just filmmakers right now. All of us are citizens in the first place,” she said. “A lot of filmmakers joined the army and they are fighting on the frontlines right now. Some of them became refugees and were forced to leave the country. Some of them are volunteering and they do not have time to make films.”
That urgency, she added, is what makes the efforts of her Ukrainian colleagues on the Croisette this week all the more vital. “Being in Cannes is a possibility to advocate for our country and to talk more about Ukraine, and to explain why we are calling to give more space to Ukrainian voices.”
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