Ukrainian Film Club @ Columbia University
invites the public to the unofficial New York City premiere of the feature narrative
B L A C K L E V E L
directed by Valentyn Vas’yanovych, 2017
When: Jan. 24, 2018, Wednesday, 7:00 PM
Where: Deutsches Haus, 420 116th St.
(off Amsterdam Ave.)
Yuri Shevchuk will introduce the film and lead the discussion
Non-verbal. Free and open to the public
This is your unique opportunity to be among the first US viewers to see Ukraine’s 2018 contender for the Oscar, shot by one of the most talked about Ukrainian directors today. Valentyn Vas’yanovych runs his own production outfit The Harmata Film, thanks to which fact he enjoys the kind of creative independence, that is denied to most of his peers in Ukraine. Even for a country with, until recently, neglected filmmaking industry, he has an impressive filmography that includes documentary and narrative shorts, documentary and narrative full-length pictures, some of them like Counter-Clockwise, (2004) with international recognition (Jury Prize at the 7th International Short Film Festival at Clermont-Ferrand, France).
In many important ways, Vas’yanovych is a quiet path-blazer. He stands out by his very compelling vision of Ukrainian identity that is modern, urban, psychologically nuanced, and, yes, finally Ukrainian-speaking. Vas’yanovych’s feature narratives Business as Usual (2012) and Credenza (2013), perhaps for the first time since the Soviet collapse, are stories that evolve around the protagonists who populate urban centers, as opposed to the Carpathian mountains, wear European suits, as opposed to the Orientalizing embroidered folk garb, speak intelligent Ukrainian as opposed to surzhyk, that stigmatizing mixture of Ukrainian and Russian, the protagonists who are easy to identify with for the Ukrainian viewer.
He commands a rare capacity to tell a story, no matter the subject, in a very personal and intimate manner, when the viewers feel they are let in on a secret and become part of somebody else’s life, like is the case with his feature documentary The Dusk (2013), addressing the painfully delicate matter of dying in a way that leaves you strangely inspired. Besides his directorial talent, Valentyn is a brilliant cinematographer, also with sound international recognition. The feature narrative Tribe (2014), directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytsky, in which Vas’yanovych appears as the director of photography has garnered prizes at three dozen international film festivals.
Vas’yanovych’s new film Black Level is the latest evidence of his unconventional talent and capacity to generate exciting new ideas in the medium that has seen it all. Going back to the roots of the filmmaking art, the director abandons verbal language and uses exclusively that of visual images to tell the story. The Black Level ends up being as cinematographically beautiful as it is intellectually stimulating.