Documenting Ukraine at this human world — International Human Rights Film Festival

Event announcement
thw 2023 sujet

From 30 November to 10 December 2023, the 16th edition of the this human world — International Human Rights Film Festival will take place in various cinemas across Vienna. In a new partnership between the Documenting Ukraine program at the IWM and this human world, we will show a unique selection of the newest Ukrainian award-winning documentaries.

The special program, entitled “The Context of Truth,” was curated by the Ukrainian culture manager, journalist, and editor Olga Birzul. Four selected documentaries depict Ukrainian reality and highlight the virtues of care, solidarity, empathy, and resilience that help to counteract Russian agony.

In this curatorial statement, Birzul outlines the questions, reflections, and motivations guiding her choice of films:

Why, despite all the grim lessons of the 20th century, did humanity allow the rise of “rushism” (Russian fascism), face the inertia of international institutions, and experience a crisis of sensitivity? How to talk about suffering, loss, and war while still holding the viewers' attention? How to convince ourselves and others that solidarity, mutual aid, and responsibility are not just catchy slogans but effective long-term strategies for all of humanity?

The following works will be shown within the focal point:

  • Iron Butterflies (Roman Liubyi, 2023) delves into the lies and violence surrounding the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July 2014. A Q&A with Kseniya Kharchenko, IWM Documenting Ukraine program manager will follow the screening. Saturday, 2 December, 18:00, TOP-KINO.
  • 20 Days in Mariupol (Mstyslav Chernov, 2023) reveals the fate of Ukrainian journalists in the embattled harbor city of Mariupol. A discussion with film directors Alisa Kovalenko and Roman Liubyi, producer and correspondent Stephane Siohan, and IWM Permanent Fellow Katherine Younger will follow the screening, moderated by Kseniya Kharchenko. Sunday, 3 December, 17:00, Stadtkino.
  • We Will Not Fade Away (Alisa Kovalenko, 2023) follows a group of five friends in war-torn Donbas whose lives suddenly change when they are invited to join an adventurer on his expedition to the Himalayas. Kseniya Kharchenko will moderate a Q&A with director Alisa Kovalenko after the screening. Monday, 4 December, 18:00, Schikaneder.
  • Ukrainian Storybox: Voices of War (David Belton, 2023) tells the story of a traveling video lightbox that reveals the heart of the war in Ukraine, making the unfiltered voices of people between flight and home heard. A Q&A with the director, moderated by Kseniya Kharchenko, will follow the screening. Wednesday, 6 December, 20:30, Breitenseer Lichtspiele

The main challenge for Ukrainians is to walk on the thin ice of the balanced truth: neither to fall into victimhood and watch people's sympathies turn into repulsion, nor to present the image of an immortal hero, an invincible "brave Ukrainian" who is free of trauma and doesn't need support. 

- Kseniya Kharchenko, Documenting Ukraine Project Manager