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VISIONS DU RÉEL 2024 VdR-Industry

Clare Stronge, Vadym Ilkov y Oleksandra Kravchenko • Directores y productora de Fixing the War

"Una de las cosas más impresionantes de los fixers en Ucrania es la comunidad que conforman"


- La irlandesa y el ucraniano, dos premiados cineastas, revelan algunos aspectos de su próximo proyecto, que ha ganado el Premio Especial Eurimages en Visions du Réel

Clare Stronge, Vadym Ilkov y Oleksandra Kravchenko • Directores y productora de Fixing the War
(i-d) La directora Clare Stronge, el productor Gary Lennon, la productora Oleksandra Kravchenko y el director Vadym Ilkov (© Nikita Thevoz)

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

Within the framework of the Visions du Réel Industry program, Ukrainian director and cinematographer Vadym Ilkov and Dublin-based filmmaker Clare Stronge were honoured with the Special Eurimages Prize worth 20,000 euros and created to support Ukrainian co-productions in development. Their upcoming project Fixing the War is produced by Oleksandra Kravchenko for outfit Moon Man and Gary Lennon of Plainsong Films. Cineuropa talked with the two filmmakers about the ideas behind their project.

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Cineuropa: Can you tell us how have you met and how your collaboration is born? What really prompted you to embark on this important project?
Clare Stronge: The idea was conceived at the start of the full-scale invasion. I had worked with fixers many times over the years as a journalist and documentary maker and when I saw the sudden, unprecedented demand for news from Ukraine, I realised just how many fixers would be needed to help foreign journalists cover this huge unfolding story. It dawned on me that I knew about fixers only because I had personally worked with fixers as a journalist and filmmaker but outside of the film and media industry, very few people are aware that fixers even exist. 

When you think about how much disinformation we have been subjected to over the last decade, it seemed like time to shine a light on the news gathering process for a general audience, to show them what news manufacture is really like, and who exactly is involved in that process.

Through mutual friends, producer Gary Lennon and I reached out to Vadym and Oleksandra to discuss the idea for a film following fixers at work in Ukraine. Interestingly they were both already invested in this world. Sasha had worked as a fixer in 2022 – indeed she had already worked with many of the fixers who would become protagonists in our film. Vadym had similarly become fascinated with how fast and wide news was spreading of events in Ukraine and how that international coverage was directly influencing the course of the war. We joined forces and Vadym began to closely follow several key protagonists, filming them observationally as they went to the frontline, on human interest assignments, and also at home as they tried to maintain some kind of normal life amidst the conflict.

Cineuropa: How did you actually manage to film the fixers at work? 
Vadym Ilkov: Actually, filming in a war zone in Ukraine is quite easy to organise, you just need to follow the procedures: obtaining necessary accreditations and permissions from the administration and military authorities, respecting certain restrictions of the martial law, and carefully following security protocols. 

But of course, filming in a war zone is still very dangerous, so ensuring security is a big part of the fixers’ job – especially, if their crews don’t include a security advisor (a security professional, usually ex-military, hired by the editorial offices to accompany journalists during their assignments on the frontline). Security protocols sometimes become a reason for tension and disputes between the fixers and the journalists, who might insist on doing reckless things without clearly realising the risks. 

CS: One of the amazing things about fixers in Ukraine is how much of a community they are. They help each other, sharing contacts and resources on their Telegram and WhatsApp community groups. 

Cineuropa: Your aim during the VdR-Pitching was to find another co-production partner or international sales in order to finish the project. How do you think the Special Eurimages Prize will help you reach your goal and how will it potentially impact the movie artistically?
Oleksandra Kravchenko: The Eurimages prize came to us at such a right moment: we were running out of resources to continue observing our protagonists and finalise the film's "casting". It is crucial in observational documentaries to continue regular filming with protagonists in order to maintain connection with them. So this prize will definitely ensure the film's creative value. But also, the recognition that goes with the cash is equally important: we were so inspired by the project’s reception, it really strengthened our resolve – and that of several potential financial and creative partners – that this was a very relevant and important story that needs to be told.

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