~ Nationality: Ukraine ~

Hidden Life by Elina Petrova

Hidden Life is written and spoken by Ukrainian-born Elina Petrova, now in Houston, USA. The film is by Chap Edmonson, a native of that city. The film was in part inspired by Terrence Malick’s 2019 feature film A Hidden Life, a favorite for both poet and film-maker. The epigraph to that film is a line from George Eliot’s classic novel Middlemarch:

…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Petrova’s bio gives her home town as Donetsk, stating that “she became an American citizen in 2014, but remains a citizen of the world.” Also from her bio:

A frequent Pushcart Prize nominee and a finalist for the post of Houston Poet Laureate in 2015… She was appointed Austin International Poetry Fest’s Featured Poet in 2019 and has been featured in the Huffington Post’s “Five Poets You Need to Know About” as one of Houston’s important emerging poets.

Chap Edmonson’s bio from the film’s notes at YouTube:

Chap Edmonson is an award-winning filmmaker based in Houston. His films have been screened in Cannes, Paris, Alfred, Los Angeles, and Houston (Calm Remains, 2021, and You are Art, 2019). Chap’s work is rooted in a deep desire to connect with those who have come before him. Through the use of unconventional compositions and soundscapes, he creates films that tell dynamic stories of a rich history, the future, and points where they intersect.

He is interviewed about the film here.

The film was produced in association with Aurora Picture Show and Public Poetry Houston, which runs the yearly REELpoetry film festival.

Between before and after by Marichka Lukianchuk

An author-made videopoem by Kyiv-based artist Marichka Lukianchuk with fellow filmmaker Elena Baronnikova and dancer Angelina Andriushina. Music is by DakhaBrakha – Весна Чілі. Lukianchuk explains the title on Vimeo:

2 years ago Lena and me filmed some material for the project that did not mean to happen then. Last week Lena wrote to me, reminding about it. Now all the pre-war footage has its own story under the war condition.

Now, in times “between before and after”, when they don’t let us make a step forward, we learn to fly

Click through for the text of her poem in Ukrainian.

I was struck by the various creative juxtapositions of pre-war and wartime footage of the same places, and then the equally creative shots of the dancer in the second half. I shared it with my co-blogger Marie Craven to get her reaction. She responded:

It amazes me that artists can even speak in war time, let alone with such moving serenity and hope.

I increasingly dislike overt political polemic in films (never liked it much even as I sometimes have engaged with it in my own films). Perhaps the thing I dislike the most is that it is usually for an audience of the converted and therefore somewhat pointless.

This film transcends that completely in my view.

Couldn’t agree more. And I can really get behind the sentiment in the poem’s closing lines:

I’m just asking for one thing:
let me not forget
how to get surprised by* the good things
in times when
you can no longer be surprised by the bad ones

*or “how to marvel at” according to Google Translate

Про форму / Concerning Form by Yurii Andrukhovych

This is Love Mykolaiv if you dare (Закохайся в Миколаїв, якщо насмілишся) by Ukrainian director Angie (Anzhela) Bogachenko, featuring actors Zoryana Tarasyuta and Denis Shvetsov and a poem by the prominent Ukrainian writer Yurii Andrukhovych called “Concerning Form”, with Roman Reznik’s English translation in the subtitles. Visit Poetry Film Live for the full text and background on the film (including bios of Bogachenko and Andrukhovych). Here’s the summary:

The film introduces viewers to the architecture and the ‘peculiarities’ of life in Mykolaiv. Angie Bogachenko says: “We love our city, but over the years it loses shape. How can it be corrected? Imagine that you found a magic music box, which is able to change any of the drawbacks.”

Kanten deiner Augen / Edges of your eyes by Yevgeniy Breyger

“Gaps in the fog allow a look inside: A foreign environment, observing trees and falling birds.” Melissa Harms (A.K.A. MelissaMariella) directs and animates a text by Ukrainian-German poet Yevgeniy Breyger in this film from the Lab P project’s 2014 series. (The films were kept off the web for a couple of years, which is why I’m only getting around to sharing them now.)

ГІПНОЗ / Hypnosis by Hrytsko Chubai

A Ukrainian poetry film directed by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk with a poem by Hrytsko Chubai. Be sure to click on the CC icon for the English subtitles, translated by Iryna Vikyrchak, and see the YouTube description for additional credits. I found this thanks to the Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition shortlist for 2015. (The screening is scheduled for this very weekend, October 10-11, at the Smurfit Theatre in The Firkin Crane, Cork, Ireland.)

Як вишні / As cherries by Olena Huseynova

Dariia Kuzmych directed, animated and edited this videopoem with poetry by Olena Huseynova and music by Heinali. It won first prize in the main competition at CYCLOP 2014.

See the CYCLOP-2014 playlist on YouTube, currently at 30 videos, for more Ukrainian poetry films, many of them with English subtitles. With the Western news media always focusing on conflict in Ukraine, it’s easy to lose sight of the country’s rich and complex culture. Watching these bilingual videopoems offers a glimpse into the way Ukrainian people think, what they value and what they dream about. Plus, they’re just very good films.

Кафка / Kafka by Kyrylo Polischuk

Kyrylo Polischuk (Pol Ischuk) composed the music and text, and Viktoria Netrebenko is credited with the idea and editing of this Ukrainian videopoem. It took 2nd place in the main competition at CYCLOP 2014.

Взрослеют / Growing Up by Ksana Kovalenko

A quirky, disturbing stop-motion animation by Eugene Tsymbalyuk with text and narration by Ukrainian poet Ksana Kovalenko. Denis Chernysh was the director of photography, and the actors are Victoria Klyosova and Roman Nemtsov. This was the third-place winner in the general competition at CYCLOP 2014.

Tsymbalyuk offers this synopsis in the description at Vimeo:

“Growing up” is an associative video, made under the impression of the short poem. It’s a story about growing up by pain. It’s about the ability to except the inevitable and to gain experience, when the treacherous knife in your spine turns out to be a key able to open new doors for you.

Пізнаєш мене (Myself Known) by Zaza Paualishvili


An author-made videopoem from Ukraine. See YouTube for the text of the poem. Here are the credits:

text Zaza Paualishvili
music Khrystyna Khalimonova
video Zaza Paualishvili
editing Valeriy Puzik
translator Dmytro Shostak

This was screened at the CYCLOP videopoetry festival in Kiev on November 23 as part of a competition called “The Way” (До слова).

А у вас дім далеко від нас? (Do you have a home away from us?) by Anzhela Bogachenko

What planet, era, realm, country are your letters from?
At this point, draw a palm, a house, a planet. Explain.

I’m just back from the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, where I saw many great films including this wonderfully goofy one from Ukrainian poet-filmmaker Anzhela (or Angie) Bogachenko, which with its dancing cosmonauts somehow speaks to my experience over the past week in Berlin (where I also met up with my British partner-in-crime Rachel, with whom I otherwise maintain a long-distance relationship).

You’ll need to watch this at 360p minimum to make out the English subtitles. The text of the poem in the original is here; the translation in the titling is credited to Ksana Kovalenko. The music is a song called “на крыше” (“On the Roof”) by the group VEN, according to a Google translation of the YouTube description. The film was part of a screening called “Triadic Dimensions” featuring films that used music and dance as well as poetry to “convey … the cumulative force of language.”

There’s also a version of the film with Russian subtitles.