Talent in the spotlight: Oksana Voitenko Oksana Voitenko talks about her short film Hideout.
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Talent in the spotlight: Oksana Voitenko

Oksana Voitenko talks about her short film Hideout.

The Ukrainian director Oksana Voitenko is one of the lucky talents who received coachings and financial support from the 2019-pilot 'CineSud International co-production scheme' for her film project. Hideout is about Orestes, a commander of a rebel detachment, who is hiding with his pregnant wife Eva and several soldiers. The rebels are surrounded by a Soviet detachment. The captain of the Soviet detachment gives Orestes the choice: to give him Eve or to accept an unequal battle.

"It is very important for me to tell European people what is happening with Ukraine now, but in order to understand this you need to talk about the Ukrainian history first."

31 augustus 2020

Could you tell us something about yourself?

"I was born on January 23, 1989 in the city of Kyiv as a citizen of Ukraine. From 2010-2012 I worked as the head of the Directing and Video Editing groups of the Kyiv Palace of Children and Youth. My first work as a director was a music video for the Lemko folk song Plyve katcha, performed by the band Pikardiyska Tertsia. During the Revolution of Dignity this song and this music video became symbols of the Maidan. From 2012 I worked as a video editing director on TV and as a visual effects artist at different post-production studios. I attended the Kyiv National I. K. Karpenko-Karyi University of Theatre, Cinema and Television. In 2018 I completed the course Feature Film Directing."

What is your film's title and what is it about?

"The film's title is Hideout. It is a historical drama about one of the most tragic and heroic pages of my homeland's history. At the beginning of the Second World War, Ukraine was torn apart by two occupation regimes: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was standing against invaders. The allies won the Second World War and Ukraine was fully occupied by the Soviet Union. The war ended for the world but not for the soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army."

"The main character of my film, Orestes, is the commander of the UIA detachment. He is hiding in a hideout with his pregnant wife Eva and several soldiers. The rebels are surrounded by a Soviet detachment. The captain of the Soviet detachment gives Orestes a choice: to give him Eve or to accept an unequal battle."

How did you get inspired to make this film?

"I like historical movies the most and I feel confident in this genre. I wanted to create a movie about Ukrainian heroes but without pathos and stereotypes. Now Russia attacks Ukraine again, like the Soviet Union used to attack Ukraine in past times as showed in the film. I made this film to show that war is always terrible for both sides. And even in war the main morale should be to stay human."

What was the biggest challenge you met during the production of this project?

"The biggest challenge was creating the script because I have never been a soldier of the UIA and I obviously don't have these experiences. So, I read a lot about the soldiers's memories of the UIA and about people who helped them. My co-author was a soldier of the contemporary Ukrainian Army Anatoliy Sobolevskiy. He therefore had experience with war and helped me to understand how soldiers think and feel."  

"The next big challenge was searching for money because historical movies are very expensive, even if you can find volunteers. The whole team worked for free during the pre-production and the 15 days shooting period."

What was the most valuable lesson you learnt from this project?

"The most valuable lesson was to understand that, in order to have good movie, one only needs three good things: a script, actors and a team. If you have a good script, you will find money. If you have good actors, you can fix possible problems with the script during the repetition. If you have a good team, they can point out possible problems with your direction and help you fix them. Always remember the people who help you and all problems will be solved."

Is there anything you are working on right now?

"Now I am working on the scripts of two feature films. One is a thriller and the other one is a detective drama."

What do CineSud and the CineSud Talent program mean to you as a filmmaker?

"CineSud give me hope that a movie about the Ukrainian history can be interesting in Western Europe. It is very important for me to tell European people what is happening with Ukraine now but in order to understand this you need to talk about the Ukrainian history first. Because of Russian propaganda, people abroad often think that Ukrainians are fasсists."

"CineSud Talent is a great support for new filmmakers. I did not only get financial support, but I also got help with the editing. I think in every country, students and new filmmakers experience challenges when looking for money for film, so it is so great to have this chance."

What are your future plans?

"To have some festival distribution for Hideout. The film was already selected at the National Competition of the Kyiv International Film Festival Molodist. And I want to shoot a feature film."

If you could redo anything about the film, what would it be?

"I would make some scenes more accurate, with a stronger direction. I would shoot more wide shots. There are a too many of close-ups in the film, I think. And I wouldn't use so much music in the final scene."

What is your advise to others who dare to start working on a short film?

"Don't hurry in writing the script. Give your script to other people you trust so they can read it. Ask them: 'What do you understand about the story and what don't you understand?' Because it is very hard to look on your own story with 'fresh eyes' and that's why a lot of mistakes occur. And if you have a good story and strong script you will find everything else you need for shooting."

Where, from your perspective, lies the strength in short films?

"A short film can tell the most important things in a short time. It is like a 'boom' for the viewer. Short films can shake the viewer. Short films are not very popular in cinemas but very popular on the Internet, on Youtube or Vimeo. There are a lot of free shorts, so even people with no money can watch them and I think the overall quality of short films got better."

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

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