Julia Sinkevych • Programmer of Parallels and Encounters, Palić European Film Festival
“We celebrate the diversity of artistic visions”
- We chatted with the Ukrainian-born professional, who tells us more about several aspects of the Serbian event that kicks off this Saturday, 16 July
Julia Sinkevych is a film producer, programmer, consultant, co-founder and member of the supervisory board of the Ukrainian Film Academy, member of the supervisory board of the Ukrainian Institute, member of the European Film Academy, and founder of JS Films LLC. She is the new programmer of the Parallels and Encounters section of the Palić European Film Festival (16-22 July).
Cineuropa: In your opinion, what makes Palić special in the world of festivals?
Julia Sinkevych: I had known about the Palić Film Festival for a long time [before becoming a programmer for it], and what makes it special is the way it connects the audience with the auteurs. It is crucial for the festival team to create the space for filmmakers to present their movies and to discuss them with viewers in an extraordinary location, which Palić really is. I also think that the free spirit of the selection process for the programme makes it special, as you don't have to focus on premiere status, but rather, you can offer a variety of films which most likely won't be in cinemas in Serbia, so this is an exclusive opportunity to see them. It is also a celebration of European movies, and by showcasing them, we can see the trends in European filmmaking and the subjects that are important in this part of the world.
What is the editorial line of your section, and how did you tackle it for the first time?
Parallels and Encounters is the programme that’s mostly focused on Eastern and Central European cinema. I find it important to showcase diverse stories and artistic visions, and to provide a space for young directors along with already-established ones. I specifically didn't want to focus on one theme or genre, but rather to show a mosaic of different voices. It is always a challenge to start working on the selection of the programme, which already has a history embedded within the festival and expectations on the part of the audience; however, I hope they will find true gems in the line-up.
What has European production output been like this year?
Of course, 2022 should have been a year of recovery after two years of the pandemic, which affected film production everywhere in the world. We see that the festivals are coming back to their usual formats, and the cinemas are open for the public and with fewer restrictions. However, these past couple of years have had both negative and positive effects on film production. On one hand, it put many productions on hold, but at the same time, it taught us how to be inventive. There are new topics being broached in films which we wouldn't have thought of before the pandemic; however, now they are being explored by filmmakers as they deal with basic human rights. I'll admit that Polish, Lithuanian and Czech films are especially strong this year. The market seems to be trying to get back to normal, but new challenges are ahead of us, also owing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is affecting the entirety of Europe.
What is your home country, Ukraine’s, presence at the festival like this year, and what is your current feeling regarding what is happening to it?
This year at Palić, there will be a focus on Ukraine organised in cooperation with the Ukrainian Institute. The festival is offering a selection of the latest Ukrainian fiction and documentary films, such as Reflection [+see also:
interview: Valentyn Vasyanovych
film profile] by Valentyn Vasyanovych, Rhino [+see also:
film profile] by Oleh Sentsov, Stop-Zemlia [+see also:
interview: Kateryna Gornostai
film profile] by Kateryna Gornostai and others. In the main competition and in Parallels and Encounters, there will be two Ukrainian titles: Pamfir [+see also:
interview: Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk
interview: Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk
film profile] by Dmytro Sukholytky-Sobchuk and Butterfly Vision [+see also:
interview: Maksym Nakonechnyi
film profile] by Maksym Nakonechny, respectively. The choice of the country in focus for the Palić Film Festival was made before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but now, of course, it has a special context. I think that art is a powerful tool, and cinema is also a way to raise awareness of the historical background and the reasons for an invasion. It’s a way to draw attention to the fact that the war in Ukraine has actually been happening for the past eight years and that many lives have been ruined, but at the same time, we have talented filmmakers and lots of great stories to tell. I am sad to see how some film festivals remain ignorant of the fact that the presence of Russian films is unacceptable at the moment, and it shows that there is a lack of understanding of this historical and cultural context. Now is the turning point where we have to face the fact that there will be no “business as usual” in that regard.
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