Seven Places to See Ukraine

The locations where See Ukraine-2018 is going to take place
Madrid. Munich. Paris. 7 spaces — galleries, cinemas, art centers — which are rethinked and revived when targeted by See Ukraine. Already in a few weeks, Docudays UA will go to Europe again with its project of cultural diplomacy. It will involve screenings of contemporary documentaries from Ukraine, an exhibition of Ukrainian artists, and, of course, a discussion platform, where international and Ukrainian experts will discuss the concept of this year's project called the Empty Pedestal. Read about what's special and important about the locations where this year's See Ukraine is going to take place in our blog.

Olha Birzul, the curator of See Ukraine

Madrid (October 12–14)

A year ago, See Ukraine already opened the fall season in the Cineteca film theater, which is located in the contemporary art center Matadero Madrid. This year, the project returns here again. And, to be honest, it's my little bit of joy, because I was so impressed both with the history of the theater's founding and with its program.

First of all, it's a municipal art center which was created in an abandoned bull hospital. Today, it's a thriving cultural space where you can find anything, from a theater and a gallery to a rental bike shop. The explanation is that three years ago, Madridians elected for mayor the seventy-year-old Manuela Carmena, who is known for protecting the victims of the regime under Franco. From the start, Manuela enthusiastically engaged in "treating" the city's painful spots. She founded programs to revitalize abandoned spaces, announced urbanist competitions which encouraged socially active citizens, supported campaigns to assimilate refugees and, actually, always actively participates in demonstrations against gender violence and inequality.

Secondly, Cineteca has such stable funding from the government that it never screens blockbusters and other box office garbage. The film theater's program lists only documentaries, auteur films, curated collections and festival screenings. The local bookshop even has books about Dziga Vertov in Spanish!

Iryna Klymenko, the coordinator of See Ukraine in Germany

Munich (November 6–11)

The thematic focus of this year's See Ukraine motivated us to look for institutions which would allow, on the one hand, a kind of synergia with the city's public space, and on the other hand, would enable an open discussion about the complex questions of social transformations in Ukraine. And Munich is actually the place where the announced topic, the Empty Pedestal, seems extremely relevant. The place is an example of democracy and social orderliness. But at the same time, from the historical perspective, it is here that the Nazi regime, in its time, constructed its social foundation, whose shadow is still visible, for example, in such buildings as the monumental Haus der Kunst, or in the Odeonsplatz where the infamous burning of forbidden books took place. For decades, the social challenge was to find the consensus as to what, if anything, can remain visible, and in what form.

The documentary program will be screened in the Monopol film theater, which has its own faithful audience for documentaries. The exhibition of the work of young Ukrainian artists will visit the Lovaascontemporary art gallery in the museum area in the city center. The discussion involving human rights activists and historians from Ukraine and Germany will be held in the University of Munich, in collaboration with the School of Eastern European Studies.

From this city's perspective, Ukraine is very far away, and, however disappointing it is, it's still much farther than geographical markings. Today, when Ukraine is at war, and Germany is trying to deal with new challenges of radical right sentiment, the language of documentary film, art and discussion remains one of the important instruments for coming closer together and, at the same time, coming closer to ourselves, not least by looking at others.

Anna Koriagina, the coordinator of See Ukraine in France

Paris (December 3–9)

When See Ukraine started its tour around Europe a couple of years ago, Paris was the first city to host the festival. And it was met with a very warm welcome. I am glad that this would be the second time that we will show our film program in the iconic film theater in the Latin Quarter, near Sorbonne and the key locations of the 1968 student revolution. By the way, after one of the screenings in 2015, I was approached by an old man who was almost crying. It turned out that the episode where the pavement stones became one of the symbols of our revolution reminded him of his student youth, when he also threw pavement stones in the Sorbonne square and prepared Molotov cocktails.

La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin hosts many festivals and unique retrospectives. It's an independent Paris cinema which has screened arthouse films for more than 15 years. And, actually, it's one of the last cinemas in Paris which still screens films from the 35mm film.

Main photo:La Filmothèque du Quartier latin (photo:


some impressions
In the first days of September, the festival SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR arrived to Spain. The project coordinator Olga Birzul is telling in her blog about the season opening at Cineteca with Ukrainian films, the most fashionable cultural centers of Madrid, the siestas and the engines of documentary filmmaking.

Friday, September 1st

Good morning, Madrid! In the morning, we are visiting the festival location with the Ukrainian delegation and fall in love with Matadero Madrid from the first sight. I am always joking about blind dates. During the two-month preparation process me and my colleague Natalka Shostak have only seen the cinema house on the Internet. The cinema has been communicating with us through its program coordinator Jara, who has turned the See Ukraine preparation process into a small celebration. This attentive, joyful woman is a proficient English speaker, incredibly knowledgeable in the current Ukrainian situation. She has found for us the best slots and helped us with the Spanish posters and press releases, as well as with technical equipment. But we haven't met Jara yet, and we are worrying whether anyone will come at all. The first days of autumn are incredibly hot in Spain. Many people are on vacations.

We still have a couple of hours before the evening premiere of See Ukraine. We remember that today is the Day of Knowledge in Ukraine. Where can we find new knowledge about Spain? In the museums, of course. Siesta begins in the city at noon, and one cannot survive this heat but in the shade. We go to the Prado Museum and listen to filmmaker Roman Bondarchuk's confession that he once pondered on a career in visual arts.

In the evening Matadero Madrid changes completely. This complex turns into a crowded, lively space, where numerous events are taking place simultaneously. See Ukraine is opening the season at the local Cineteca cinema, which, by the way, features only movie classics, documentaries, and author's movies. Even though it's the opening day, the audience is almost full with people, most of whom are Spanish speakers. "What a success", says Jara. "Usually we have no more than one-third of the audience. Just like in your country, we feel strong competition from the American blockbusters". I am a bit jealous. If we had such an up-to-date and convenient facility, we would have no trouble competing with blockbusters.

The people applaud after the movie. The discussion with Roman takes almost 40 minutes. The viewers are asking sensible questions, marking out the filmmaker's sense of humor and clarifying some historical and political circumstances of the creation of "Ukrainian Sheriffs". I am waiting for my favorite question about the "non-heroicity" of the sheriffs, but it never comes. The Spaniards, cultivated by Cervantes, Velazquez, Almodovar and 40 years of Franco authoritarian regime, understand everything without long explanations.

We pass to another premise, which is also crowded. The first day of the festival is closing with black and white mute movie "Eleventh", which was provided to the See Ukraine festival by Dovzhenko Center. The screening is accompanied by the piano performance by Sofia Turta, and the composer Anton Baybakov created an original soundtrack for the movie.

It's already late, but the audience is keeping Anton for a long time. The viewers are familiar with Dziga Vertov and with the propaganda machine that used the cinema as an agitation tool. The audience thanks, Anton and Sofia for the music. "There is no human in this film", the composer says. "But I wanted you to see him". Seems that the audience understood his message. Invigorated with the audience's sincere reaction on the performance, we are wandering the streets of Madrid. Tired but happy.

Saturday, September 2nd

At night, I suddenly learn about tomorrow's closure of the epochal exhibition dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Picasso's "Guernica". This piece has been the most successful cultural diplomacy project at its time. After the sensational presentation at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1938, Picasso was invited to bring "Guernica" to the Scandinavian countries, the USA and the United Kingdom. He went there and collected money for Spaniards, exhausted with the civic war. The exposition, which is telling the detailed story about the tragedy of Basque city of Guernica, Pablo's personal nightmares and evolution of the artist's imagery, completely absorbs me. This iconic Spanish artwork is an outspoken metaphor of our contemporary situation.

The members of the Diaspora are finally attending "The Living Fire" in the evening. There are Ukrainian speakers in the audience. The most interesting thing during the discussion with the movie's director, Ostap Kostyuk, is following the reactions of different viewers. The Ukrainians are admiring the traditions, while the foreigners are complimenting the form of the movie and sincerely wondering why one of the main characters spends all his time at the mountain valleys with the grown up shepherds instead of attending school. After the closure of the cinema theater, the discussions with Ostap continue outside. "Traditions and memories about the culture of our ancestors are uniting us here", one of the viewers explains. Most Ukrainian migrants came to Spain from the Western Ukraine. The viewers are asking Ostap about the common friends, telling him about mushroom picking in the Spanish mountains, complaining about the taste of the local cheese. There is no end to this long evening, and there is no end to the meeting of long-time friends who unexpectedly ran across each other in the midst of a huge bustling city.

Sunday, September 3d

In the morning, our new friends are waiting outside the hotel. Ostap receives a gift that hardly fits the size of his suitcase. All of us are invited to leave our feedback about Spain in the Ukrainian diaspora chronicle. We say goodbye to Ostap and, together with director Sergiy Bukovsky, are hurrying to the museum triangle. The siesta is about to catch up, and we have to hide in the cooling premises of the galleries of Madrid.

By the way, Spanish museums are incredibly hospitable. The admission is free almost everywhere, even at Prado and the Queen Sophia Arts Center, every day from 6 PM (from 3 PM on Sundays). Unemployed people with a special ticket for temporarily unemployed persons can visit all the museums free. The state encourages them to spend spare time on self-education.

Every floor at one of the most popular cultural centers of Madrid, the Palaciode Cibeles, which features numerous expositions, offers special relaxation zones with free wi-fi and fresh press. This museum, which was previously the city's main post office, is free for all visitors.

Most of the expositions are dedicated to the LGBT communities, the integration of immigrants into the city life, and the social projects. If only Ukrainian far right groups would see this center, they would have a collective heart attack. The center is financed by the state and located at one of the city's central squares. It's time to return to Matadero Madrid – the art space that is one more successful example of revitalization. These facilities were once meant for the corrida bulls, who afterward passed into the hands of food industry representatives. After the corrida prohibition in Spain, this complex became ownerless. Nowadays it is among the most fashionable cultural centers in the capital. Each ticket costs like a cup of coffee. The center is supported by the city budget.

We are closing See Ukraine in the evening with Sergiy Bukovsky's "The Leading Role". This gentle and personal movie about the filmmaker's relationships with his mother, actress Nina Antonova, is putting a delicate period in our brief but fruitful cultural dialogue with the Spanish audience. Sergiy elegantly explains why he created this family diary instead of one more epic about the events of the national significance. According to Albert Camus, the historical responsibility is convenient because it removes the responsibility to the people. Personal stories are the driving force of documentary filmmaking. Luckily, the local audience needs no further explanations.

Monday, September 4th

Today we are returning home. I don't know whether we'll have another opportunity to visit Spain with See Ukraine. However, looks like we have come to terms with Don Quixote: no matter how sad his image may be, it was Cervantes who have taught the humans to look optimistically at the eternal contradiction between knightly ideals and reality. I am taking with me some Spanish documentaries. The dialogue between countries should be permanent.

SEE UKRAINE: DOCUDAYS UA ON TOUR is supported by the Open Society Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation.


comments and impressions
This September Hamburg was the fourth stop on the SEE UKRAINE European tour by Docudays UA, which started in Paris. By the way, thanks to considerable public interest and the financial support of the city of Hamburg, the exhibition of the Ukrainian photographer Alexander Glyadyelov was extended to 5th October. Organizers and guests of the festival have shared their impressions with us.
It was once again amazing to speak to such an inspiring representative of the Civil Society in Ukraine as Oleksandra Matviychuk. Courage, competence and humanity – that is what tired old Europe can learn from the young women and men of the Maidan Generation. Europe needs to support them, because Europe badly needs their spirit.
Konrad Schuller
journalist and author
In only one day on 17th September, during the Night of Churches in Hamburg, over 300 visitors to the Mahnmal St. Nikolai had the opportunity to see Alexander Glyadyelov's exhibit of documentary photographs, part of the SEE UKRAINE project, which ran from 8th to 23rd September. Thanks to considerable public interest and the financial support of the city of Hamburg, the exhibit and accompanying program were extended to 5th October. This positive response is a wonderful sign that the voice of the program could be heard and understood.
Ira Klymenko
Sociologist and coordinator of the project See Ukraine for Germany
In Hamburg I was waiting for provocative questions about the "fascist coup".This is why I brought brochures "Truth against Russian propaganda" with an extract from research of Euromaidan events by Vyacheslav Likhachov, a well-known researcher of ksenophobia and antisemitism. But the audience was interested in other things, like motives of the volunteers or the way people live near the 350 kilometers long demarkation line, and whether we lose our optimism in the course of difficult democratic transformations that have to take place during military operations.
Oleksandra Matviychuk
Human rights activist and a coordinator of the Euromaidan SOS
Hamburg seems to be made of damp. It is a city where you can cross the river through the underwater tonnel, and apart from German you can hear Polish and Ukrainian in every corner. We showed "Ukrainian Sheriffs" there, and despite the fine weather people came to see it. "This is a good film, if only it was more positive!" - this was the first comment after the screening. It wasn't a coincidence for this woman to come here: she's been living and working in Germany for 10 years now. "You see, the whole diaspora has been struggling for people to think of Ukrainians as of serious, sensible people, and now you come with a film that shows such hopeless, horrible things. Aren't there some hard-working farmers in the south of Ukraine? Why don't you show a film about them?" I tried to explain: "But the sheriffs deal with people who are not so well off". That viewer did not convince me that the film was too grim because a lot of people laughed during the screening. It turned out it was people from our diaspora who laughed the loudest.
Kate Gornostay
Photo Gallery from Hamburg
Ira Klymenko
Sociologist and coordinator of the project See Ukraine for Germany

This September Hamburg will be the fourth stop on the See Ukraine European tour by Docudays UA, which started in Paris. The project's aim is to share Ukrainian documentaries that present today's Ukrainian reality to Western Europeans and contributes to cultural dialogue between countries. We talk about Euromaidan, about the information war prosecuted by Russia against Ukraine, about Ukrainian human rights activists fighting for political prisoners, and about the unique volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians for a third year. We don't pull our punches, and want Ukraine to be seen as it is. And we face the same question at every stop: how do you talk about a country where war has become part of everyday life? Iryna Klymenko, See Ukraine coordinator in Germany, shares her experience of organizing the project in Hamburg.


Modernity has imparted upon Europeans the unprecedented belief that mutual understanding can always be achieved, that the strongest arguments can prevail, and that opportunities indeed exist to listen and be heard. At the same time, the history of modernity itself became one of defeats in our attempts to leave brutal conflicts in the past and forge common ground for peaceful co-existence. This ambivalence shows us that the world isn't simple, and that you can't always find unambiguous answers and universal explanations to difficult questions. But it also urges us to not stop trying.

The iron curtain divided Europe for a long time, and it will be a long time still before those borders permanently disappear. It will possibly take longer still for the curtains in our minds to open. The historical experience of each society, each individual set of collective memories, has produced and implanted different forms that shape the fundament for our respective perceptions and understanding.

We know stories from the Soviet era, when intellectuals and dissidents who managed to escape to the West faced suspicion about their stories of inhumane repression and torture. While it would seem that, when it comes to freedom, dignity and human rights, there can be no disagreement, there shouldn't be two opinions or interpretations. But is it really so unambiguous?

Ironically, difficulties in understanding arise precisely where there is the good will to put aside simplistic answers, crude theories and preconceptions, and a desire to see yourself through the gaze of the other. Here, black and white washes out into uneasy greys, leaving questions whose answers are not always those wished for. And we are left forced to search such forms for mutual understanding which are even capable of momentary synchronizing experiences that are radically different in both their nature and content.


The preparations in Germany for the exhibit by Aleksandr Glyadyelov involved, among other things, regular correspondence to translate the presentation of the works and author. It was important to find such wording as would convey their meaning to a German audience without losing the original sense. The process of translation unexpectedly confronts us with new understandings of things usually left unquestioned.

For example, it is unusual to refer to photographers in German as "authors", as this term is usually associated with writers. The choice of the term "author" signifies a departure from an unambiguous understanding: is this a misprint, a mistranslation, or an attempt to convey some meaning? Is this a photographer telling a story?

This ambiguity of translation became an advantage because it opened spaces for the reassignment of meaning. We can separate the "author" from the photograph, who is telling us a story of something difficult to convey in words, needing instead artistic forms of expression, with all their (in)ambiguity, to address such ambiguity in life itself, life in conditions of war. The language of art, which speaks to different aspects of our perception, may become a form able to momentary succeed at lowering barriers to understanding.


The Mahnmal St. Nikolai memorial holds a central place of memory for the victims of war and violence between 1939-1945 in Hamburg. This former church in the city center was destroyed in 1943 during the bombing of Hamburg. It was left in ruins to act as a constant reminder of the causes and consequences of war in Europe, this well known and crucial "never again". Today it hosts a permanent exhibit of black and white photographs of wartime, "Gomorrah 1943: Destruction of Hamburg During the Bombing." Its purpose – reminding us of the importance, even after decades of peace, of not stopping to consider what the everyday experience of war is like, then and now.

How to speak of war? How to speak of war in Europe? How to speak of war in a Europe that is rightly proud of its recent history of peace? This question is posed not only by us, who directly experience war today. This question is also posed by those lucky enough not to face the horrors of war in their own daily lives. Yet, although the questions are the same, they arise in different societies with different historical and personal contexts. This asynchronicity of experience can be an obstacle to understanding, but it doesn't have to, if we manage to pause to also consider the asynchronicity itself.

Glyadyelov's exhibition of black and white photography, which tells the recent history of Ukraine, from Maidan to the war, will be presented in one of the halls of the Mahnmal St. Nikolai memorial. There is just one wall between Glyadyelov's work and the permanent exhibition of pictures of Hamburg after the bombing of 1943, which changed the lives of every family in this city. I hope and believe that this proximity will enable what even the sincerest words can fail to do: metaphorically and aesthetically synchronizing separate experiences to allow mutual understanding, if even for one critically important moment.

P.S. Meet SEE UKRAINE in Hamburg in September 8th – 21st.
Yaryna Grusha
Cultural manager and translator
See Ukraine in Milan: Exercises for Memory

At the beginning of 2016 Docudays UA has started SEE UKRAINE european tour. This cultural diplomacy project has already visited Paris, Athens and just came back from Milan where the festival lasted from 12 to 30 of July. Yaryna Grusha, our Italian project coordinator, tells about the reception of Ukrainian documentary films and photographs in Milan.

To begin with, Italy is a country where Veneto region has recognized Crimea as Russian territory, and similar application is already filed to the Regional Council of Lombardy region. You can hear Russian language at the most famous boutique streets (it has become less often in the last two years though). Local busisnessmen are complaining about damage caused by the economic sanctions. But Ukrainian diaspora in Italy is almost 1 million people, and we were lucky to have a wonderful location for SEE UKRAINE project - House of Memory dedicated to the victims of nazism and terrorism. Before the project opening we had many warnings about possible pro-Russian provocations. All the exhibitions and screenings were patrolled by local police in civilian clothes to secure safety of our visitors. We were lucky though, and there were no intrusions from unwanted visitors.

Traditionally for SEE UKRAINE, the festival has started with a photo exhibition of Aleksander Glyadelov. Fourty black and white photos from Maidan and the battle zone in the east of Ukraine showed the revolution and the war in Ukraine, only sporadically covered by Italian mass media. But we should be honest: this topic is uncommon for Italian media not because of the "Hand of Moscow". Unlike countries with colonial history - Britain and France - local journalists generally don't pay much attention to international news. Italy is quite traditional and conservative country, and usually sticks to the foreign policy of diplomacy.

On the next day we invited everyone to discussion "Where are you heading, Ukraine? Two years after the Euromaidan". With Ukrainian and Italian itellectuals we tried to put back the accents usually lost in the endless information flow. Two young Italians came to listen to the speakers. They plan on going to Ukraine in autumn to start working on their film "Ukrainian youth. What being a young Ukrainian is like". Later we found out that many Italian directors are interested in Ukraine. Another shooting crew member came to "Euromaidan. Rough cut" screening. They have already received finances to shoot their film "From Lenin to Lennon" about current renaming of the place-names and all the burden of Ukrainian-Soviet past. Participants of the discussion after the screening on Italian side were Barbora Gruden and Valter Padovani, Italian journalists who worked at the Maidan and in Donbass, and producers Julia Serdiukova and Darya Averchenko on Ukrainian side. The discussion turned out to be the most imporant of all the festival talks. To tell the truth, information about Ukraine in Italy is still presented mosly in the political context.

Other screenings focused on political issues only occasionally thanks to Italian and Ukrainian speakers who invited the viewers to talk about things completely new to the local audience. For example, films like "Ukrainian Sheriffs" by Roman Bondarchuk and "The Living Fire" by Ostap Kostiuk provided an opportunity to see the Ukrainian south and west documented with their problems: extinction of the shepherd profession and organization of the civil order in a remote village. The audience remarkably compared extinction of the sheep breeding in the west of Ukraine with the situation in Italian Alps where cheese manufacture has decreased.

During our European festival tour we usually offer to watch Ukrainian cinema classics, like black and white silent film "The Elleventh Year" by Dzyga Vertov about socialist construction in the Soviet Ukraine of 1920s. Ukrainian composer Anton Baybakov has created an original soundtrack that was performed live by the pianist Sofia Turta. On the one hand the film speaks a universal language of industrialization common to many European generations, on the other it shows reality of the country as it was a hundred years ago with the eyes of one of the greatest documentalists. It's no secret that "The Elleventh Year" is an excellently made agitation where music enables us to see emotional accents so often ignored by our ratio.

P.S. SEE UKRAINE will visit Gemany and Spain in autumn. Follow the updates at the project's website.
First, the surprising correspondence of main theme with the place of exhibition. There was a simple stand with photos of the fallen Italian resistance fighters glued to it like a mosaic. The exhibition about present Ukrainian struggle for freedom against aggression of the totalitarian neighbour took place in the same space at the House of Memory. It represents very directly and symbolically the continuity of history and our place in it. The second thing is partly connected to the first one. The reaction of members of the organizations located at the House of Memory - the sincerity of it was very important. On the other hand it was a revelation to them as well as to the Milanese who came to see the exhibition how hard this war that Ukraine fights is and how much effort Maidan took. Almost from everyone who shared their impressions with me I heared that the first and perhaps only thing to come in mind in comparison to this was the Second World War.
Aleksandr Glyadelov
I'm very happy that our team did the "See Ukraine" project. We couldn't just seat and do nothing while the Kremlin propaganda machine kept working at its full capacity. I presented the screenings of "Ukrainian sheriffs" "Euromaidan" and discussed them with Italians and Ukrainians in Milano. There weren't many viewers. We were glad when a 50 seat hall was full. A tall Italian came to "Ukrainian sheriffs" screening. He rolled his sleeves and showed "UPA" and "Glory to heroes" tattoos on his arms. Our eyes widened.
- That's Max - said Valentina from Lviv who organized a local Maidan to support Kyiv. - Max has been sympathetic to Ukraine from the very beginning. In december 2013 he started spending his days standing near the central railway station wrapped in the Ukrainian flag. He wanted all the passengers to ask themselves: what is that flag? Why is he standing there?
Max didnt have Ukrainian roots or Ukrainian wife, or even close friends there. One day he just read about brave Ukrainians at the Maidan and decided to support them. He impressed me very much. It was an answer to the question, whether it all was for nothing or not. It wasn't. And to be continued!
Darya Averchenko
PR-director Docudays UA, producer
It was an exceptional opportunity to discover such a wonderful city and to introduce our works to people who live here. I sincerely hope that this screening will enable other screenings of the "Living fire" for Italian public. It was a pleasure that the discussion after the screening (Q&A) was moderated by Maria Grazia Bartolini. The "Living fire" creative crew would like to thank her for her deep analysis of the film. It was a pleasure to find a greatful viewer as well as a considerate critic in her expressions. We were also glad to see Ukrainians and Italians at the screening, because we're talking about universal problems that concern many nations. By understanding these common problems we can unite to solve them.
Ostap Kostyuk


The second part of "See Ukraine: Docudays UA On Tour" took place on 20 - 11 November in Athens. The festival was suspended in May because of the protest meeting organized by pro-Russian forces calling themselves "Greek atifascists". On the eve of the opening on May 13th the managers of the Exile Room, the main festival venue in Greece, refused to host the festival events after radical groups' call for a protest rally near the location. The festival was urgently relocated to the Embassy of Ukraine in Greece.

The fetival team supported by Association of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Greece "Ukrainian - Hellenic Thought" has been loking for safe location for several months. The festival was finally organized at the culture center of Webster University in Athens. The program included films "Ukrainian sheriffs" by Roman Bondarchuk and "The Living Fire" by Ostap Kostiuk. After the screenings viewers were able to discuss films with heroes and authors. Discussion "Is democracy in war time possible?" by Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matvi