Announcing our Ukraine focus: ‘Password: Palianytsia’

Still from One Day in Ukraine. Aerial view image of a children's playground, set in the middle of a roundabout. Beside the playground are parked cars, and two military tanks.

Image credit: One Day in Ukraine (c.) Babylon’13

In solidarity with Ukraine, we are proud to announce the Ukraine focus: ‘Password: Palianytsia’ a collaborative documentary programme with Docudays UA, which will launch the British Council and Ukrainian Institute’s ‘UK/Ukraine Season of Culture’ with the World Premiere of One Day in Ukraine, by media activist and filmmaking collective Babylon’13. This co-created film centres on a single day during the war in Ukraine, March 14 2022.

The Ukraine focus includes work across our Film programme, Alternate Realities exhibition, Industry programme and Talks & Sessions with:

  • 4 feature documentaries in our Official Selection
  • 4 feature documentaries from Docudays UA Official Competition
  • Docudays curated screening with talk
  • VR, art and TikTok works in our Alternate Realities exhibition
  • 5 projects in development selected for our MeetMarket
  • 3 projects in Works-in-Progress in partnership with Ukrainian Institute
  • Ukrainian delegation of filmmakers and artists supported by the British Council

This comprehensive programme is an expression of solidarity with Ukraine. It provides a powerful encounter with contemporary Ukrainian life - including the horrific reality of this war. For the Sheffield DocFest team, the programme grew from wanting to support and collaborate with our respected colleagues at Docudays UA and valued partners at the Ukrainian Institute and the British Council. The programme creates a space in which Ukrainian filmmakers and artists can continue to have their work seen, develop new projects, and keep Ukrainian culture alive.

Due to the war, Docudays UA, the main human rights international documentary film festival in Ukraine, was prevented from taking place in March this year. Sheffield DocFest offered Docudays UK to collaborate on programming and to present the four Ukrainian films from its own Official Competition. Docudays UA then also curated a screening and talk to contextualise the current military aggression looking at how Ukrainian documentary filmmakers have experienced and comprehended the years since the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan) in 2014. 

The Ukrainian Institute was already working with our Festival to bring a delegation of filmmakers with works-in-progress to Sheffield as part of the long-planned UK/Ukraine Season. This would be the latest in several exchanges and initiatives between DocFest and the Ukrainian Institute over the last decade. After the full scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, it did not seem possible for this exchange to go ahead as planned.

“The fact that this collaboration has expanded, and is now represented across all of our programme, is a testimony not only to the great documentaries Ukraine is producing, but also to the resilience and the commitment of our Ukraine colleagues, who despite the unimaginable challenge of living in a state of war, continue to fight for the future of Ukrainian culture.” - Clare Stewart, Interim CEO and the Sheffield DocFest team

The programme title - Palianytsia [pɐlʲɐˈnɪt͡sʲɐ] - is a large Ukrainian traditional bread made of wheat grain. The word itself has been used since the beginning of the war at checkpoints to identify saboteurs. Russian-speaking Ukrainians can easily handle the demand to say "Palianytsia". Russians cannot pronounce a soft "ts" sound that does not exist in Russian. This word has given rise to many Internet memes, posters and popular songs. There are even radio interceptions where the Russian military is training to say it to each other - for fear of being exposed. This word alone testifies to Ukrainian identity and brings security.

“On behalf of the entire team of Docudays UA, I thank the amazing people from Sheffield DocFest for the initiative to create a programme of solidarity with Ukraine this year. In the year when the war started in our country and when we have to postpone our festival until the moment of liberation from the enemy, this is an invaluable step. New Ukrainian films and projects - in spite of everything - will be able to gain their fans and jury evaluations.” - Roman Bondarchuk  Art Director, Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

The British Council and the Ukrainian Institute have been planning a season of culture in 2022 for some time -  originally  to mark 30 years of the UK’s diplomatic relationship with Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine in February  strengthened resolve to deliver a season, with a revival of interest in Ukraine’s culture and heritage. Through a year-long programme of activity the Season aims to  strengthen and deepen cultural partnerships between both countries, and provide new opportunities for exchange including through residencies, talks, films and lectures. The programme will focus on the changed needs and priorities of the Ukrainian sector and give a  voice to Ukrainian creatives, both in the UK and online. The British Council has a long-standing relationship with Sheffield DocFest, so launching the season here has particular resonance. 

“The British Council and Ukrainian Institute are delighted to be working together on delivering this season of culture, and to be launching it at Sheffield DocFest. Film is a key creative sector in Ukraine, and now more than ever it is important that new films giving voice to contemporary Ukrainian culture are visible and accessible to international audiences." - Scott McDonald, Chief Executive, British Council, and Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General, Ukrainian Institute

As part of the UK/Ukraine season and with the support of the British Council, a delegation of Ukrainian filmmakers and artists will visit Sheffield to present their documentary films, VR and artwork. Selected project teams will also attend to participate in the MeetMarket, our flagship pitching forum which connects selected teams with a vast network of international industry representatives at the Festival. The Docuday’s DOCU/PRO team have been vital contributors in facilitating the MeetMarket selection. Additionally, three films will attend for Work-In-Progress presentations as was originally planned, and these projects have been selected from an open call.


Sheffield DocFest Official Selection

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Outside - Ukraine, Netherlands, Denmark - 2022 - Olha Zhurba


Ukrainian documentary features screening across our Official Selection include:

Fragile Memory - Ukraine, Slovakia - 2022 - Igor Ivanko UK Premiere
Ihor Ivanko sheds light on the life of his grandfather, Leonid Burlaka, a cinematographer from the glory days of Odessa Film Studio, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 

One Day in Ukraine - Ukraine, Poland - 2022 - Volodymyr Tykhyy World Premiere 

Media activist and filmmaking collective Babylon’13, formed during the Maidan uprisings, focus on the events of March 14, 2022 – the 2,944th day of the Russian-Ukrainian War

Outside - Ukraine, Netherlands, Denmark - 2022 - Olha Zhurba UK Premiere
Olha Zhurba’s powerful debut feature tells the story of Roma, who at 13 years old became the poster child of the 2014 revolution.

Overcoming the Darkness - Ukraine - 2022 - Kinodopomoga World Premiere
This kaleidoscope of short stories shines a light on Ukrainians bravely defending their land against the Russian invasion, with millions struggling for their right to exist.


Docudays UA films from Official Competition

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Infinity According to Florian - Ukraine - 2022 - Oleksiy Radynski


Docudays UA is the leading international human rights documentary film festival in Ukraine. Prevented from taking place in Kyiv in March this year, due to the war, Docuday’s presents the four Ukrainian films in its Official Competition selection at Sheffield DocFest:

Infinity According to Florian - Ukraine - 2022 - Oleksiy Radynski UK Premiere
As this riveting portrait of the multi-hyphenate artist Florìan Jur’jev unfurls, the acclaimed architect faces one of the greatest challenges of his storied career.

Mountains and Heaven in Between - Ukraine - 2022 - Dmytro Hreshko International Premiere
An intimate portrait of life in a remote mountain village, seen through the eyes of four paramedics, as the spectre of COVID-19 becomes a reality.

Plai. A Mountain Path - Ukraine - 2021 - Eva Dzhyshyashvili UK Premiere
Eva Dzhyshyashvili’s contemplative film details rural life for a couple whose world is irrevocably impacted by conflict but whose resilience perseveres.

Pryvoz - Ukraine - 2021 - Eva Neymann UK Premiere
A vast market in Odessa is the setting for this fascinating observational documentary, highlighting its role as an artery in the everyday activities of city life.


Talks & Sessions

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Left: Peace & Tranquility - Ukraine - 2022 - Myro Klochko. Right: Boney Piles - Ukraine - 2022 - Taras Tomenko


Peace & Tranquility + Boney Piles + extended discussion

A talk that contextualises Russia’s current military aggression against Ukraine, looking at how Ukrainian documentary filmmakers have experienced and comprehended the years since the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan), follows the screening of two films:

Peace & Tranquility - Ukraine - 2022 - Myro Klochko  
Playwright Andrii Bondarenko's life – the peace and tranquility of his boyhood, bookended by historical traumas and conflict – is encapsulated in a film produced two weeks after the Russian invasion.

Boney Piles - Ukraine - 2022 - Taras Tomenko UK Premiere
Taras Tomenko’s powerful film explores the physical, psychological and emotional impact of war on children, and the resilience that endures in spite of it.


Alternate Realities

Alternate Realities exhibits and showcases innovative non-fiction and immersive documentary in all forms with a flagship exhibition at Sheffield’s Site Gallery and other works across the city. Ukraine related selections include: 

Rozsypne - The Netherlands - 2019 - Nienke Huitenga and Lisa Weeda International Premiere
In the summer of 2014, as war raged around the otherwise peaceful rural village of Rozsypne, in east Ukraine, elderly Nina tries to preserve her everyday life. 

Out of Body Experience - Ukraine - 2020 - Photinus Studio International Premiere
Striving to maintain their connection and artistic practice during lockdown, Ukrainian artist collective Photinus Studio created a performative space for collaboration where all participants become one malleable body. 

A TikTok War - Ukraine / UK - 2022 - Various
From hiding out in bunkers to traveling across Europe as refugees, TikTok has been appropriated to chronicle and explain the horror of the Ukraine war.


MeetMarket project selection

Five Ukrainian projects have been added to the previously announced 35 projects in our flagship documentary pitching forum:


Ukraine, Canada | Director: Oksana Karpovych | Producers: Giacomo Nudi, Rocío Barba Fuentes    

Ivan & Marta. A Day Before the War

Ukraine | Director: Sergey Bukovsky | Producer: Oksana Ivaniouk           

Nice Ladies (working title)

Netherlands, Ukraine | Director: Mariia Ponomarova | Producers: Rogier Kramer, Maksym Nakonechnyi, Anna Zobnina, Alina Gorlova

Shut the Fuck Up!    

Ukraine, France | Director: Taisiia Kutuzova | Producers: Stephane Siohan, Olga Beskhmelnytsina    


Ukraine, Czech Republic | Director: Oksana Syhareva | Producers: Oksana Syhareva, Nataliia Pogudina, Karla Stojakova   


Works-in-progress Screenings

Three project teams - selected from an open call - will present Works-In-Progress as part of the Industry Programme:

Expedition 49
Ukraine, France, Poland | Director: Alisa Kovalenko | Producers: Stephane Siohan, Valery Kalmykov, Tomek Morawski

Fragments of Ice
Ukraine | Director: Maria Stoianova | Producers: Alina Gorlova, Maksym Nakonechnyi

Iron Butterflies
Ukraine, Germany, France | Director: Roman Liubiy | Producers: Andrii Kotliar, Volodymyr Tykhyy



About Docudays UA

Docudays UA is the main human rights international documentary film festival in Ukraine. It is a member of the international Human Rights Film Network. It takes place every year in Kyiv in the last week of March. After it ends, Docudays UA traditionally presents the best films in the Ukrainian regions during the Travelling Festival. The screenings and discussions of films involving human rights experts take place between October and December. Throughout the year, Docudays UA popularizes original documentary films on It develops critical thinking among young people through Docudays UA human rights media education film clubs. It helps young Ukrainian documentary filmmakers to produce films through the DOCU/PRO platform. Every year, Docudays UA publishes a catalogue of new Ukrainian films to promote them internationally. 

About the Ukrainian Institute

The Ukrainian Institute is a public institution affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Its mission is to strengthen Ukraine's international standing through the means of cultural diplomacy. The Institute facilitates international connections between people and institutions and creates opportunities for Ukraine to interact and cooperate with the world.  

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 67 million people directly and 745 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. 



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