Results: literature, music and cinema. Anastasiia Yevdokymova, Pavlo Hots, Antonio Lukich

Results: literature, music and cinema. Anastasiia Yevdokymova, Pavlo Hots, Antonio Lukich

For the fourth year in a row, Svidomi online media has been holding summary shows at the end of December to reflect on what has changed in Ukraine over the year in various areas: military, culture, education, foreign and domestic policy. 

We invited Anastasiia Yevdokymova, editor-in-chief of the online culture magazine Sensor, co-author of the Untitled Project, Pavlo Hots, a member of the band Nazva, and Antonio Lukic, film director of Moii Dumky Tykhi (My Thoughts Are Silent) and Luxembourg, Luxembourg, to discuss the trends of 2023 in literature, music, and cinema.

Numerous book clubs have sprung up in Ukraine

In Kyiv alone, 23 bookstores opened in 2023. The offline format of book fairs has also returned. The culture of buying books has grown. The pace of printing and the queues two months in advance indicate a demand from the public.

Ukrainian classics are popular because we are trying to explore ourselves

The Ukrainian classics of the 1920s are the most suitable for this. We recognise ourselves in Vynnychenko's Notes of the Snub-nosed Mephistopheles, Domontovych's The Girl with the Teddy Bear, and Yanovsky's Master of the Ship. 

Ukrainian ideas may have lost at the time, but the classics that are being reprinted now allow us to reassess today's revolutions, defeats, and victories.

Ukrainians have long been on a course to the world's book fairs. It is natural and logical

In the previous year to COVID, 2019, Ukraine was represented at 11 book fairs. Back then, the state funded many of the stands with the participation of publishers and authors.

Ukrainian books began to appear in foreign libraries in large numbers after the full-scale war. The Goethe-Institut invested a lot of resources to ensure that Ukrainian book sets appeared even among the youngest readers in Germany, Poland, and other countries. 

One of the problems is that Ukrainian books are often placed next to Russian books on so-called Eastern European shelves. Another debate is the choice between the West and Ukraine's internal needs. Education does not invest in updating school book collections. Therefore, there is a considerable need for books in the frontline, de-occupied, etc. territories. These actions should be consistent.

One day, Ukrainian writers will have a chance to win international literary awards.

However, for them to receive any of the world's awards, it is necessary not only to remind people of Ukraine but also to translate these authors into foreign languages.

We cannot assess the role of online writers in the literary process now

We will only see later how authors who have become popular online have influenced the development of literature in general. We don't know what Pavlo Vyshebaba will write or whether he will write at all, for example, in a few years. But we can state the fact of his popularity right now.

Over 1000 books have been published about the Russian-Ukrainian war since 2014 

Over 150 drama pieces have been written about February 24, the brink of the invasion. All of them were essential reflections. Over the past year, many non-fiction pieces, essays, and reports from the de-occupied territories have appeared.

There should be even more books like this so that we can understand ourselves and reflect on our trauma as an experience. 

The greatest text about this Russian-Ukrainian war has yet to be written. Likely, the authors of this book have already been born. But they don't know it yet. Neither do we. Somewhere, there are our Remarque and Hemingway. However, their names are not Erich or Ernest.

Last year saw a linguistic renaissance in music

In 2023, it is still going on, but now musicians have to fight for it. Today, it's not just about language but also music's identity.

If we talk about artists who have switched to the Ukrainian language, they can be divided into several categories. Those who "changed their shoes", like Svitlana Loboda. Those who do it because it's the right thing to do, like Monatic, who doesn't make new songs in Ukrainian. And those who are now producing new Ukrainian-language music with sincere intentions, in Pavlo Hots's opinion, such as Nadia Dorofeieva. Her latest collections are proof of this.

Will Russian-language songs return to the Ukrainian charts on a massive scale?

People still listen to Russian music in Ukraine. If we want it to disappear from the charts, we must educate our listeners and viewers. This is the responsibility not only of musicians but also of every Ukrainian. 

Educational blogs, for example, by Andrii Shymanovskyi and Vitalii Hordiienko, can influence the audience and motivate them to switch to Ukrainian.

Trends in consumer culture and Pavlo Hots's favourite artists

Widespread post-punk and pop-punk emerged in Ukraine due to the audience's demand for a replacement for similar Russian music. There is a demand for new faces. While the audience used to be sceptical about unfamiliar artists, Klavdiia Petrivna broke into the charts this year. 

Among his favourite artists, Pavlo Hots names BRYKULETS, TheKomaKoma in a new format, Andrii Barmalii, ONUKA and Jamala's return to making music for the sake of music.

Among his favourite Ukrainian albums are ROOM by ONUKA, QIRIM by Jamala, Perevrennia (Transformation) by Ziferblat, Tember Blanche's Ty Lysh Liudyna (You're Only Human), TheKomaKoma's Autumn EP, new albums from Renie Cares, Hatespeech, Pyrih i Batih (Pie and the Whip).

The popularity of vinyl

The demand for vinyl has grown in Ukraine. Publishers are boldly ready to release thousands of records, whereas previously, a hundred copies could be sold for years for next to nothing. Today, an edition of 500-1000 copies can sell out in two weeks. 

In addition, records are often bought by people who don't have a record player as a musical souvenir or as a sign of support for their favourite artist. 

In general, a bunch of publishers have gathered in Ukraine, who, while not competing with each other, definitely have different visions. These are Vinyl Records, MoonRecords, and Aby Sho.

The impact of TikTok on performers' popularity

TikTok has helped Ukrainian artists such as Klavdiia Petrivna and the band Schmalgauzen grow in popularity. The social network promoted a single track by these artists and their style in general. The challenge of Ukrainian music today is the constant demand of the audience for something new. New artists don't have to rely on TikTok alone. 

Nazva's track Na Dno (To the Bottom) was promoted on Instagram. There are ways to promote through YouTube, Twitter, and others.

How does a full-scale war affect film production?

We comprehend life through cinema and try to reach people through emotions. The war has become a part of everyone's life today. There will be no more films like we made before February 24, 2022. In a disappointing reality, there can be no film that will not disappoint. 

Lukich's next film will be a study of human change. The author feels entitled to the audience's "disappointment" but asks that we separate the cancel culture and the disappointment.

Release of Luxembourg, Luxembourg during a full-scale war

The decision to release Luxembourg, Luxembourg was the responsibility of the producer and distributors. The team realised it was a justified decision during the shows, as the film was warmly received. The film reminded people of a familiar reality.

In general, 2023 was marked by increased Ukrainian interest in cinema. Some people are trying to destroy this trust. However, given the growth in confidence, the box office ratings for Luxembourg, Luxembourg were significantly high.

Humour is the armour of Ukrainian identity

People in Ukraine laugh at things that are not laughed at in other countries. This invisible thing unites us as a nation and won’t let us lose our identity.

Ukrainian cinema on streaming platforms

Ukrainian films have started to appear on streaming platforms. Nosorih (Rhino) was one of the first Ukrainian films released on the Netflix streaming platform. The work is an example of reconciliation between the author's creative imagination, Oleh Sentsov, and the reality that surrounded him when he was making this film. 

This reconciliation was successful. However, Ukrainians still need time to comprehend and grow up with this work.

Sharovarshchyna in Ukrainian cinema

The genetics of Ukrainian cinema rests in the poetic cinema. It emerged as a rebellion against social realism. Sharovarshchyna (a stereotypical, usually negative, representation of Ukrainian culture through pseudo-folk elements of costume and life — ed.) is an unhealthy "weed" that grew out of this. There will be a lot of it. 

Cinema, in general, can go in two directions: distracting and reflective. The cinema will reflect on ruins, not just architectural ones.

Any art can be adjusted to any political course. Art and politics both want to dominate each other. But the language of power is the same everywhere.

20 Days in Mariupol and Oscar

Yevhen Malolietka's 20 Days in Mariupol was shortlisted for an Oscar this year. We used to look up to the East, and in 2014, we turned to the West. Everyone faces the challenge of explaining to the world what our reality is like. 

The film 20 Days in Mariupol is the most essential document of our time. It is outside the political agenda. The film rejects everything superfluous and tells us why what is happening should not happen.

In our reality, this is the only Ukrainian film that has won an Oscar so far. The film prize was created to make important opinions heard. 

20 Days in Mariupol is the opinion that should be heard and is the proper reflection of reality. If it is not heard, there will be no need for Oscars in our reality.

The state and cinema

Seven auteur films a year, as set out in the State Film Agency's Film Development Strategy until 2027, disregards an entire industry struggling to survive. 

Antonio Lukich suggests that another head of the State Film Agency would have done a better job. For example, Denys Ivanov, the founder and head of the Arthouse Traffic film company, understands the industry better from the inside. Such a person should know what to do with films and artists.

The Ukrainian film industry is losing a generation of young people. The State Film Agency should finance graduation films. The system will work when such funding is regular, and the state shows that it cares about young people and that new voices are vital. And the so-called industry coryphaei will find the money to make new films. 

The announcement of a competition for film funding from the State Film Agency for the next year is a good sign of support for the industry. Provided it is not a drain on funds for the creation of "pseudo-patriotic films".