86 FESTIVAL
HOW AND WHY AN ATOMIC CITY IS CONVERTING INTO A CULTURAL CENTRE


In 1986, the town of Slavutych was built to provide a home for workers relocated from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In May 2018, Slavutych served as host to the 5th annual iteration of the 86 International Film and Urban Studies Film Festival. Here, festival organizers tell how their Culture Bridges grant allowed them to expand their international programme and pursue joint projects with an international partner.

The 86 Film Festival originated in 2014 in the town of Slavutych. The city's unique history and landscape - including its geographical proximity to Chernobyl - are closely tied to the festival focus. With the shutdown of the Chernobyl nuclear plant following the catastrophe, Slavutych was challenged with restructuring its economy and identity. The establishment of the 86 Festival marked the birth of the creative industries in the town and has set it on a new path as a vibrant eastern European cultural centre.
86 also came about from a desire to foster creative exchange between Ukrainian and EU cities on the topic of urban transformation, and to expand international cooperation in the spheres of documentary film, art and tactical (or DIY) urbanism. It was equally important for us to attract the local population to cultural industries and help form a sense of local identity. And this year we've added an urbanism component to the festival programme which we managed jointly with METASIT.
Katia Zaporozhets
The festival's cinema exhibition coordinator.
METASITU is Eduardo Cassina, Spain and Leva Dudareva, Lithuania – a duo specializing in art and urban studies that focuses on speculative design and the research of localized art practices. At this year's 86 Festival, METASITU presented their project - The 14th Quarter – as part of the Tandem Ukraine international programme. In effect they created an "Athenian Quarter" in Slavutych, effectively transferring the sensibility of one city to another. This year's urbanism residency and architectural workshop are the logical extension of this successful partnership.
We'd been dreaming of an urban residency and workshop for several years, but didn't have adequate funding or a team of experienced curators. With this, everything fit perfectly: we received a grant and invited METASITU, who had worked with us before, leading the 86 urban programme. The Greek cultural foundation metamatic:taf partnered with us, allowing us to reach a wider local and international audience of both those working in cultural production and local residents.
Il'ja Gladshtein
Festival co-founder and programme director
During the urbanism residency nine participants were selected – architects, urbanists and artists – residents of countries that had once been part of the construction of Slavutych. They spent nearly a month here, reflecting on both the city's historical development and its potential. Subsequently, at the festival they introduced local residents and festival-goers to their projects and art installations related to heritage, memory and identity.
During the architectural workshop, participants and tutors from around Ukraine and Europe constructed a festival campground in the basin of a dry lake. Five teams built a tower for watching sunsets and a symbolic bridge and a wavelike canopy to encompass a foodcourt. This newly created recreational space was donated to the local community.
The Palm of the North competition now also has an international complexion. Grant monies allowed us to bring film directors from other countries to Slavutych and award cash prizes. We got about 100 applications, from which we selected 12 films, some up to 45 minutes long. There were five Ukrainian and seven foreign productions.
Il'ja Gladshtein
Festival co-founder and programme director
The jury for the Eastern Europe Documentary Contest included screenwriter Natalia Vorozhbit, journalist Maria Kuvshinova and Jihlava (Czech Republic) Film Festival programmeme director Viktor Koren. Most of the directors appeared personally at Slavutych in order to introduce their films. In addition, each day following the day's final screening we held meet-the-artist sessions with competition programmeme participants.

This year both the top monetary prize of $1,000 and the Audience Award went to the film The Magic Tablet, by Alexander Zubovlenko. The film is the story of a woman dissatisfied with life and looking for solace in health-enhancement pills. The best Ukrainian film went to Communication, by Zhanna Ozirna. It's a story about camping out that explores different types of families and partnerships.
When we started this, Ukrainian independent film hardly even existed, particularly documentary film. Now, documentaries are very cool, both radical and engaging. Directors have emerged who are willing to risk anything to film, and audiences that are ready to watch. Our greatest achievement here is gathering this active, engaged audience.
Nadia Parfan
86 co-founder and theoretician
Now, after playing host for five years to a successful festival, this obscure, small town of Slavutych has begun to attract significant attention from both Ukrainian and international audiences. It's seen as a city with a unique historical, urban and architectural context. More and more local urban initiatives are beginning to emerge and the documentary film audience has grown significantly.
Slavutych is a laboratory where one can develop new and otherly-directed models of thinking: how to work with the local administration and the community; and the comprehension of contemporary Ukrainian culture.
Nadia Parfan
86 co-founder and theoretician
Currently, Ukraine is at an early stage in the development of its creative industry potential compared to partner countries with greater access to EU funding for cultural development. A major obstacle to our work is the gap that exists between cultural sector organizations and the government. There's also some unpreparedness among local populations to join in actively. Involving international partners in our projects is not a panacea for addressing existing problems, but a good basis for the further development of the Ukrainian cultural sphere.
Katia Zaporozhets
The festival's cinema exhibition coordinator.
The 86 team plans to enhance next year's film festival by offering Slavutych as host city for the European Architecture Student Assembly (EASA), a two-week series of workshops that attracts more than 500 participants and tutors from across Europe.
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The project is funded by the European Union