"There are no tyrannies that would not try to limit art, because they can see the power of art. Art can tell the world things that cannot be shared otherwise. It is art that conveys feelings."

 - Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine 

Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimei / Ярема Малащук та Роман Хімей

Born in Kolomyia, UA
Based in Kyiv, UA

Roman Khimei and Yarema Malashchuk: confused and torn apart

Ukrainian filmmakers Roman Khimei and Yarema Malashchuk have been collaborating at the intersection of visual art and film since 2013. They both earned their degree in cinematography from the Institute of Screen Arts in Kyiv, Ukraine. They zoom in on the social impact of the current zeitgeist and the consequences of various imperialist mythologies and doctrines, focusing on the social role and situation of local youth, whom they portray as anonymous extras. The title of their first solo project, So They Won't Say We Don't Remember, is also their artistic manifesto, capturing what it was like.

The duo observes the new generations of contemporary Ukrainians, their relationship with the paradigms of the past, and the uncertain future, creating a multifaceted portrait of society in a country ravaged by historical change (and currently also war). Usually, young people are seen as a promising source of potential, the future, and changing prospects. Young people can work together to devise innovative solutions to contemporary challenges or overturn outdated beliefs. The filmmakers are fascinated by the complexity of these challenges, painting a stark, often bleak picture of the exact opposite, of apathetic and depressed young people who have already abandoned all hope, of the prevailing fear in a youth culture that has never been free and is frantically trying to reconcile itself with historical traumas. These young people seek to escape reality, broken by the continued oppression of the Soviet regime. 

To understand this dark past, they draw on society's depressing impoverishment. Ukraine has fought to maintain its identity, freedom, language, and state borders for many decades. The eastern part of the country joined the Soviet Union after the 1917 revolution, while the western part was annexed by military force in 1939. The country's national identity was transformed by the new imagery, symbols and propaganda of the imposed 'Soviet' identity. Old stories and customs – as well as historical facts – were erased from the collective memory, inspiring all sorts of doubts and uncertainties among young people regarding their origins and identity. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine immediately declared its independence, heralding a phase of difficult recovery.

The filmmakers zoom in on today's society, requesting understanding for the current generation, which feels torn and confused, portraying loitering youths as they wander down desolate streets on foot, smoking cigarettes, queueing at a run-down grocery shop and then congregating in desolate living rooms in a block of flats. Their films teeter on the painful line between past and future traumas, revealing how Ukraine is on a path marked by a hopeless struggle for freedom. As recent events have shown, the price for this struggle is exceptionally high.

Their films have been screened and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, Germany, Austria and Canada and have been awarded several prizes such as the PinchukArtCentre 2018 Special Prize, the top prize of the Young Ukrainian Artists' Competition (MUHi 2019), the prize for the best documentary short at the Internacional de Cine Silente festival in Mexico, and the Best Production award at the KIFFF festival in Ukraine.

As cinematographers, the duo have previously collaborated with Dutch duo Metahaven (Hometown, 2018) and Philip Sotnychenko. Their film Son was selected for the 2016 International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand (France), while Technical Break was voted best short at the 2018 Black Night festival in Tallinn.