18 December 2020

"Molodist" retrospective. Debut 70s

Ironically, the Molodist (means - "youth") International Film Festival is the oldest in Ukraine. Each subsequent decade added new plot twists to the festival of auteur cinema and, in the end, was able to make the festival as we know it now.

In 1970, the Faculty of Cinema of the Kyiv State Institute of Theater Arts symbolically celebrated its anniversary. At this time, they decided to conduct a republican review of student cinema with the apt name - "Molodist" ("Youth"). During the first film festival were screened 34 documentaries, feature films, popular science and animated films. The first jury was headed by Mykola Mashchenko, the director of "How the Steel Was Tempered" and "Gadfly".

The competition of film debuts does not just happen. A new French wave has already swept Europe, with former critics of "Cahiers du cinéma" Truffaut and Godard making their best films. Italy at this time honed neorealism in Rossellini cinema, and in Hollywood came a time when studios believed in directorial debuts. It was the time of Scorsese and Coppola, the competition of "Solaris" and "Space Odyssey".


"Molodist" could not choose another moment for its birth. At this time, the Berlin, Cannes and Venice international festivals are launching national film programs, and the Locarno and Karlovy Vary festivals have been running for more than 10 years. In parallel, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria organized national film reviews. In 1972, the Rotterdam International Author's Film Festival appeared. And Molodist was becoming the only annual film forum in Ukraine, with ambitions for the international level. In the mid-1970s, VGIK students, Leningrad and Minsk documentarians, and creative youth from Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia took part in the film review.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The 1970s in the USSR were a time of "stagnation," which some who still feels nostalgia called the "golden age" of the Soviets. In Ukraine, this decade has been about the arrest of dissidents, policies against self-publishing and total russification. The 1970s ended with the start of the Afghan War and one of the world's most famous kisses by Brezhnev and Honecker.

For the first ten years, Molodist forms the structure of the competition: there is a division into short, feature films, and student films are collected in a separate program. The festival is gradually creating a conjuncture of the Ukrainian film industry. The names of Mykhailo Illienko with "Theatrical Stories'' (1978), Volodymyr Bortko for the films "Role" (1972) and "Channel" (1976), Volodymyr Popkov with his "Knight Vasya" (1974) or Anatoliy Borsyuk  for the "Metamorphoses" are shot at Molodist. The end of the first decade of "Molodist" is also symbolic: the prize for the best director is awarded to Ivan Mykolaychuk for his debut poetic canvas "Babylon XX". Later, the film was recognized as the best work of Mykolaichuk-director.

Meanwhile, Kyiv is being built up with "Brezhnevky", there are twice as many chestnuts on Khreshchatyk than now, and the chairman of the jury, Mykola Mashchenko, awards the first prize-winners with crystal vases in the Arsenal factory palace, and in October in Zhovtnevyi palace.

There is still time before the Scythian Deer award, before the international status of the festival, but "Molodist" is already about Kyiv, cinema and debuts.



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