site.btaSofia Hosts Offline Backup of Bolhrad-Based OKO International Ethnographic Film Festival
An offline back-up of the 4th International Ethnographic Film Festival OKO-2023 is taking place in Sofia between October 1 and 7, 2023, simultaneously with the online event in Ukraine. After an opening ceremony at Rainbow Plaza, the screenings will be held at the G8 Cultural Center.
The organizers say that this unusual arrangement has been made because of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and in order to ensure the safety of the festival participants and guests, as well as to pursue cultural diplomacy.
OKO (the Ukrainian acronym stands for "Association of Creative Personalities") brings together filmmakers and folklorists, film buffs, and those who honour customs and traditions. Their annual festival is held in Bolhrad, in Ukraine's Odesa Region - home to a compact community of Bessarabian Bulgarians.
The OKO Festival specializes in ethnographic and anthropological documentaries and feature films exploring the everyday life of small and large peoples, communities, and rural and urban residents. It also provides filmmakers, folklorists, ethnographers and anthropologists with a platform to get to know each other, share ideas and plan future cooperation.
The festival consists of a competition and non-competition programme.
In the 2023 International Feature Film Competition, eleven entries - one each from Finland, Italy, Belgium, Romania, Spain, the US, Turkey, Israel, Serbia, France and North Macedonia, vie for a UAH 40,000 award.
The International Short Film Competition comprises 12 submissions - one each from Brazil, Moldova, Cuba, Costa Rica, Spain, Peru, Slovenia, Kurdistan, Norway and Switzerland and two from Italy. The winner in this category will receive an award of UAH 20,000.
Of the three films in the Ukrainian Feature Film Competition, Mstyslav Chernov's 20 Days in Mariupol is particularly interesting. It draws on the director's own daily news dispatches as a member of an Associated Press team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol. The film offers a vivid, harrowing account of civilians caught in the siege and an insight into what it is like to report from a conflict zone and the global impact of such journalism.
Six entries can be watched in the Ukrainian Short Film Competition. Oleksandr Stoianov's Humans and Subhumans is a courtroom drata about human rights violations in Soviet Ukraine and present-day Russia based on archival chronicles. In Oleksiy Radynski's Chornobyl 22, workers at the Chornobyl NPP share their experience of living at the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant. The film was made as part of a project entitled The Reckoning: Ukraine Testifies, which documents and investigates Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
The offline OKO Festival also has a special programme of six Bulgarian short films.
An Audience Award will be given to the film or films selected by viewers' voting during the film festival in Bolhrad and in Sofia. There will also be a special prize for Ukrainian and Bulgarian feature films and documentaries in the non-competition programme.
On the sidelines of the fest, on October 3 and 5 the National Ethnographic Museum in Sofia will host panel discussions with renowned ethnographers and filmmakers on "People and the World: People and Ecology, People and War, People and Migration" and "Heroes Among Us". On October 6, works by Ukrainian photographer Aleksandr Baron will be exhibited and auctioned off to raise funds in support of the 88th Separate Marine Battalion.