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documentary project

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the life of Ukrainian filmmakers, as well as Ukrainians, has drastically changed. Writing screenplays, shooting films, and going on with making art ­– all of it posed a dilemma for the filmmakers’ community. Life priorities have changed in a day, as well as life choices. Artists are experiencing the transformation of worldview and personal drama.

The film tells the stories of several people, creatives and film artists, who have to make a difficult choice in the face of the danger threatening their life and country. Maryna Stepanska, director of the film, meets her friends and colleagues to talk about cinematographers’ emotional experiences. Alisa Kovalenko, director of documentaries, joined the volunteer battalion and had to leave her little son and husband at home. Oleg Sentsov, a film director who spent 5 years in a Russian prison, puts his creative's career on pause and joins the Ukrainian Armed Forces. DOPs Serhii Mykhalchuk and Yurii Hruzynov, as well as film producer Volodymyr Yatsenko, document the war and the war crimes from the first days of the invasion and join the army. Roman Liubyi, a documentary director, starts volunteering and later decides to join the UAF and become a sniper, probably leaving his career in film behind for long. The family of cinematographers Olena Chechovska and Mykhailo Markov had to leave Ukraine after the occupation of Irpin; Olena went abroad with their children, and Mykhailo went on defending the country within the Territorial Defense Forces. Several months later, the family returns to their halfway-ruined house and tries to restore their world as it was before the invasion. DOP Yaroslav Pilunskyi had to pause all his projects and take a stand as the head of an aerial reconnaissance brigade.

Maryna Stepanska is also one of the characters. Throughout the film, she asks her friends and colleagues questions that concern her, too. It's conversations with friends in times of war. “Every meeting and conversation during the last few months sooner or later had the same result, namely the phrase ‘I don’t see a point in filmmaking anymore, I may change the profession.’ It was at that moment I felt that I have to take the camera again and capture these changes of emotions, that are happening around me and with me as well. ‘Now, we’ve all become a work in progress,’” says Maryna. The film will feature footage from private archives of the heroes, made in the first months of the full-scale invasion.



MARYNA STEPANSKA, scriptwriter

Maryna Stepanska graduated from Kyiv

National Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Film, and Television University. She worked at the experimental theater “School”, where she explored practice of working with non-actors. She completed the six-month ARCHIDOC program for documentary filmmakers at the French national film school La Fémis. Her first fiction feature Falling (2017, world premiere in Karlovy Vary) received several prizes at international festivals and 3 awards at Ukrainian Film Award Golden Dzyga.


2019 – Desaturated, short visual comedy, 10’

2017 – Falling, fiction feature, 105’

2015 – Man’s Work, short fiction, 15'

2014 – Holidays, short fiction, 30’


2021 – Rivals, series, 8 episodes, 52’

2021 – Vera, fiction feature

2020 – Invisible Life of Anna, fiction feature

2020 – When We Were 15, fiction feature, dir. Anna Buriachkova, Digital Religion production (2021)

2019 – Desaturated

2017 – Falling

2015 – Man’s Work


Producer, film expert, programmer, head of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Institute, member of the Oscar Committee, and member of the European Film Academy. Graduate of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and Kyiv National Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Film, and Television University

2013–2020 – general producer of the Odesa IFF. Prior to that, she worked in the distribution company Arthouse Traffic, as well as organized cultural events, such as GOGOLFEST and Koktebel Jazz Festival.

In 2016, Yuliia launched the Ukrainian Film Academy and Ukrainian Film Award Golden Dzyga. Since 2016, she is the founder and director of JS Films.

Producer of the following films:

- Native, dir. Vitalii Manskyi, 2016, co-producer, the world premiere took place in Karlovy Vary

- Heat Singers, dir. Nadia Parfan, 2019

- Lucky Girl, dir. Marysia Nikitiuk, (post-production), 2022


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