TIFF FOR UKRAINE: free access, special screenings, music and donation campaigns for the Ukrainian community

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The Transylvania International Film Festival (June 17 – 26, Cluj-Napoca) announces TIFF For Ukraine, a special initiative that will be dedicated to the community, but also to Ukrainian filmmakers. This year’s festival program will include films created by directors from the neighboring country.

Among them is Reflection (2021), directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych, which tells the story of Serhiy, a Ukrainian surgeon captured by Russian forces in the conflict zone in the east of the country, where he is exposed to all the horrors of war. Released, he tries to resume his normal life with his family, but this often proves impossible. The film was part of the official selection of the Venice Film Festival in 2021.

Rhino (2021), directed by Oleg Sentsov, will also have a special screening. The film follows the life of a young criminal who rises in the hierarchy of the Ukrainian mafia in the ’90s. With a violent past, however, he finds a chance to recover. But will he do it? Rhino has been part of a selection of film festivals such as Venice and Warsaw. Oleg Sentsov was arrested in 2014 after protesting against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Russian court in August 2015 on charges of a terrorist plot.

A campaign for his release was supported by the European Film Academy, Amnesty International, the European Parliament, but also by directors such as Ken Loach, Pedro Almodóvar and Agnieszka Holland, who sent a letter to the Russian authorities for his release. On September 7, 2019, Sentsov was released in a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

“This movie is based on real events. It’s the story of one of my friends who I knew well at the time. All this stuff happened to him. My role in this was just to create the story around it. But I didn’t add any additional drama. It’s a story of a real person, about the terrible things he did. About his regrets and confession and his attempt to transform and live a completely different life. So yes, I spent more than five years in a Russian prison, but I can’t say it really impacted my script. The experience in a Russian prison and the criminal world of 1990s Ukraine are completely different worlds,” Oleg Sentsov told an interview to The Hollywood Reporter last year.

As part of EducaTIFF, the section dedicated to children and adolescents, there will be screenings of films with subtitles in Ukrainian. In addition, on the basis of an identity card, Ukrainian citizens will have free access to all films from the festival screened in Union Square.

The special events extend beyond the cinema hall: Ukrainian musicians will hold concerts throughout TIFF 2022, and one of the days of the festival will be dedicated to traditional food and dishes.

“Culture has always played a key role in opening new bridges of communication, and TIFF has been reflecting the present for years, as it happens. For the 21st edition of the festival, we decided to focus not only on Ukrainian filmmakers and their strong voices, but also to send an invitation to thousands of Ukrainian refugees to take part in TIFF. This is our response to the absurdity that defines any war, we believe more than ever in the power of film, culture and dialogue to bring people together,” said Tudor Giurgiu, President of TIFF.

Spectators and guests of the festival will be encouraged to support the Ukrainian film industry through an SMS donation campaign. All funds raised from the campaign will be distributed to industry professionals with the help of the International Coalition for Risky Filmmakers (ICFR), a body set up by the European Film Academy in conjunction with the Amsterdam International Film Festival and the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

The full program and details about TIFF For Ukraine will be announced soon on the official pages of the festival.

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