Each year DocuDays UA documentary film festival reacts on political and social situation in Ukraine by choosing the symbol of the festival (such as the burning heart that looks like Molotov cocktail during Maidan protests or tanks that are screening movies from its tank guns after the Crimea occupation and the beginning of the war in the East of Ukraine).
This year I found DocuDays UA’s concept to be really smart and thought-provoking. It’s partly about the decommunization in Ukraine, that has become one of the main topics of 2016, a process that the country should have done in the early 90s, but instead delayed it till today. There were many discussions on what soviet heritage we should keep and what has a toxic effect on society, by doing that Ukrainians are finally trying to get rid of all the Soviet illusions that still exist in our post-Soviet society. It’s also about countries and nations that are leaving many of their illusions nowadays, while the new civilization order is becoming inevitable. In regard to these processes “Beyond the illusions” was chosen as a DocuDays UA’s slogan and “The Olympic Mishka” (Olympic bear) as symbol.


I like the text from the festival’s website, I’ll leave it here:

The “Beyond the illusions” slogan means that many countries and nations are leaving many of their illusions nowadays. The illusion of stability of the world order that democratic countries have agreed on is falling apart. The world’s illusion about weak Ukraine and Ukrainians not capable of self-organization is gone. Ukrainian illusions about international institutions in the UN system ensuring the world order without war and aggression for human rights protection are gone too. Europe and America are leaving the illusion of the democratic values and human rights being a guaranteed universality for the whole world. They are also leaving the illusion about possibility of agreement and cooperation with imperial Russia. The problem of migration has become urgent for the whole world nowadays. Will the hopes of those who run to Europe from war be justified? Will the EU pass this migration test and stick to the main value of human rights? Are war conflicts the only cause of modern Asian migration? Or there are also global economic and political processes where transnational corporations’ interests don’t agree with human rights?
In addition to cross-border migration Ukraine has internal migration now. This is a new category of people in Ukrainian society – internally dismissed persons. We still don’t have any proper government program to help IDPs integrate in local society. The government stays under illusion that people can handle it by themselves. IDPs live under illusions of going home soon, of going back to life they had before war. Meanwhile inside of these migration processes new problems arise: social apathy or even xenophobia and chauvinism.
Like revolutionaries of all times, Ukrainian Maidan heroes are hoping for quick changes in the country. Lustration haven’t happened yet, killers of the Heavenly hundred still aren’t punished, and the local elections on the 25th of October were won by the same corruptionists against whom the whole Ukraine arose two years ago. Revolutionaries are talking about the third Maidan louder and louder. The question is, whether it is going to solve Ukrainian problems or it’s just another illusion?
At the same time new fundamental question arises: isn’t it time for the government and the society to get rid of the illusion that it is possible to reform the country in everyone’s interests without changing basic relations in fields of work and property? Maybe this way through the thick jungle of the oligarch regime is our main exam in civic maturity that will lay the base for true democracy and protected human rights.


The Olympic Mishka is the mascot of 1980 Soviet Union Olympic Games. You can still see those “mishkas” all over Ukraine – on the driveway to Kyiv, in parks and on the streets. The festival believes that these smiling bears are stuck in people’s heads as a coded illusion of soviet welfare based on double standards. These bears can easily do everything Ukrainians are trying to fight: they bribe, “sort things out” and praise the soviet regime that seems to have had stability and security in future. These bears represent Ukrainian voters, soft and fluffy, who vote for their future and sell their votes on the way with guilty smiles. Or honestly vote for those who already fooled them many times. DocuDays UA have chosen the “The Olympic Mishkas” as a symbol of 2016’s festival to help all of us to get over the political hypnosis and illusions, over the belief that someone is going to solve our problems for us. These bears are empty inside; they should finally mean that we’re saying goodbye to the past that this agonizing neighbor empire is trying to drag us into. We’re saying goodbye for the new responsibilities to come, new important work to fill our lives: creating our own symbols and codes, based on our values.

The festival’s trailer includes a video of Allan Chumak, a TV personality and self-claimed hypnotist from Russia who came to prominence at the height of Gorbachev’s Perestroika. When he appeared on television, his fans would hold jars of water or bottles of creams next to their televisions in the hope that it would be recharged and be able to cure the disease. 🙂

The trailer’s soundtrack by Anton Baibakov

The opening ceremony was truly epic. Continuing with the illusions theme, it has started with a video of Anatoly Kashpirovsky talking to an audience. Kashpirovsky was a famous TV personality of the early 90s who has claimed that he can do a mass healing through hypnosis and later became more like a meme.

DocuDays documentary film festival

The greeting video ended up with confetti made of fake money, that, of course, symbolized the illusion of easy money. Check out the bottles with “recharged water” on the stage 🙂

DocuDays documentary film festival
DocuDays documentary film festival

Bitch better have my money xD

DocuDays documentary film festival

One of the hosts of the opening ceremony was Michael Schur, a TV presenter and a comedian, who used have a TV show that kind of looks like John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight (love both of them). There are some videos on his YouTube channel that have English subs, I believe. Go check it out if you are interested in what kind of news we used to have here. He hasn’t done any new videos for almost a year though, he was mobilized to the army after the ATO in the East of Ukraine has started and right now took a vacation specially to host the opening ceremony.


DocuDays documentary film festival


The opening film was “Under the sun” by Vitaly Mansky, a really cool documentary about North Korea with a beautiful cinematography. During the shooting of this documentary the director was forced by North Korea officials to make the propaganda video, but Mansky found a way to expose the propaganda machine by leaving the camera running while each shot was set up and revealing the intentions of the government to construct a play of “ideal” family.


DocuDays documentary film festival

The metro in Kyiv looks the same o_o

under the sun Mansky film documentary

Q&A session with Vitaly Mansky after the” Under the Sun” premier.
red hall cinema house docudaysua

I was a volunteer during 2016’s DocuDays UA, I wrote more about my behind-the-scenes-experience here http://seekyiv.com/international-human-rights-documentary-film-festival-docudays-ua-2016/

My job was to take pictures for a festival Instagram https://www.instagram.com/docudays_ua/ 😀
Here’s me 🙂

docudays ua instagraming

And here’s the result :)))

docudays ua festival tickets

And some other photos from Docudays UA Instagram that I like:
The meeting of DocuDays UA volunteers


docudays ua festival volunteers

There is a DocuDays UA program for children too

docudays ua children

docudays ua festival photos

docudays ua festival film tickets

During all big film events Ukrainians show solidarity with Oleg Sentsov – Ukrainian filmmaker who’s now illegally sentenced in a Russian prison. ( On 25 August 2015, a Russian court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in prison). Read more here http://www.sentsov.com/

DocuDays documentary film festival


The closing documentary film was “Mariupolis” by Mantas Kvedaravicius, a poetic look into a daily life of the Ukrainian city Mariupol that lies closely to the war borderline. It first premiered at 66th Berlinale film festival. I highly recommend to watch it.

Mariupolis by Mantas Kvedaravicius

All DocuDays UA guests ate in the legendary Babylon restaurant 😀

babylon restaurant Kyiv kiev

Yes, an aquarium inside a bar

babylon bar cinema house kiev kyiv

Apart from documentary films there were many human rights disscossions.
The lawyers of Ukrainian political prisoners that are illegally captured in Russia: Nadiya Savchenko’s lawyer Ilya Novikov and Alexander Kolchenko’s lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina.


DocuDays documentary film festival

During the festival people could sign off cards or letters for Ukrainian prisoners who are illegally captured in Russia.
DocuDays documentary film festival

DocuDays documentary film festival

There is a DocuDays UA kindergarten, where kids learnt how to make little documentaries. They were running around the festival venue with cameras 😀

DocuDays documentary film festival

Cinema House!

cinema house kiev kyiv docudaysua

disco ball docudays film fest

documentary festival Kyiv kiev

The living library where everyone can communicate with ‘living books’ – people who are facing certain prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping in society (for example refugee, feminist, Muslim, lesbian, gay, Roma, Buddhist, foreign student, former prisoner, human rights activist and others).

libing library docudays

living library docudaysua

living library kiev docudaysua

docudays film fest workshop

DocuDays documentary film festival

docudays ua

DocuDays UA at Kyiv cinema

DocuDays UA at Kinopanorama cinema