Mute Nights: How the Dovzhenko Centre has made Ukrainian and International Archival Cinema popular
The Mute Nights Festival of Silent Cinema and Modern Music is the only one of its kind in Ukraine and the largest event in eastern Europe dedicated to the study and presentation of Ukrainian and world archival cinema. The Dovzhenko Centre, which runs the festival, is a state cinema archive whose main functions include the preservation, research and presentation of the Ukrainian cinema heritage. The Centre is not only a place to preserve Ukrainian archival cinema, but can also further research, disseminate and provoke public interest in the form.


The institute is a member of the FIAF, helping to popularize the world heritage of silent film in Ukraine and export our own cultural product beyond our borders. Films shown during the Mute Nights Festival programme are beginning to play a larger role by traveling to festivals abroad and working in the realm of cultural diplomacy.
The main programme of the festival
The Mute Nights Festival for this year is already concluded. It ran for three intense days in Kyiv and two in Odessa, with a main programme, an educational programme and a children's programme.
We had eight silent films in the main programme including:
Man and Monkey
directed by Andriy Vinnitsky (Ukraine, 1930, 71 min.)
This was the world premiere of the first full-length Ukrainian popular science film and was considered lost. Researchers at the Dovzhenko Centre discovered the film in the National Cinema Archives of Japan (NFAJ), where a negative had been preserved. The Japanese cinematic lab IMAGICA West Corp produced a black-and-white 35 mm print paid for by the Dovzhenko Centre. We received the film in spring of 2018 and it is now archived at the Centre.

The musical soundtrack was produced by the Ukrainian group Ptakh_Jung.
Pigs Will Be Pigs
directed by Khanan Shmain (Ukraine, 1931, 55 min.)
This is yet another premiere of a Ukrainian film that was believed to have been lost. A rare Ukrainian satire that lay in the German Federal Archives and was returned to Ukraine thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian Embassy in Germany.

The musical accompaniment was provided by Albert Tsukrenko (Hammerman Destroys Viruses) of Ukraine.
Der Adjutant des Zaren
directed by Volodymyr Strizhevsky (Germany, 1929, 91 min.)
This film from the Danish cinema archive was created with the participation of emigrant Ukrainian film-makers including Strizhevsky and actor Alexander Granakh.

Musical accompaniment: Roman Vishnevsky (Ukraine), a composer discovered at the Envision Sound programme for film composers which was hosted this year at the Dovzhenko Centre in partnership with the British Council in Ukraine.
Der Turm des Schweigens
directed by Johannes Guter (Germany, 1925, 96 min.)
A mystical drama archived at the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Germany, and which featured a Ukrainian film star — Ksenia Desni.

Musical accompaniment: another Ukrainian composer discovered at Envision Sound, Sergey Leontiev, and his Sed Contra Ensemble.
Wind Off the Rapids
directed by Arnold Kordium (Ukraine, 1930, 64 min.)
a monumental film about the construction of the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Station and its connection with the fate of a simple family. The film is archived at the Dovzhenko National Centre.

Musical accompaniment: Artokrats (Ukraine).
Arrest Warrant
directed by Georgiy Tasin (Ukraine, 1926, 83 min.)
A psychological thriller from the VUFKU Film Studios. The film was shown in the festival in Odessa and is stored at the Dovzhenko National Centre.

Musical accompaniment: Caravans (Ukraine).
Underground
directed by Anthony Asquith (Great Britain, 1928, 84 min.)
A classic of world silent film from British archives.

Musical accompaniment: an Azerbaijani composer discovered during Envision Sound — Azer Hadjiaskerli and a quartet of Kyiv-based musicians.
The Wind
directed by Victor Shostrom (USA, 1928, 95 min.)
Another classic of world silent cinematography from the National Film Register of the USA.

Musical accompaniment by the Ukrainian act, Supremus.
Additional programme
In order to emphasize the integration of Ukrainian culture into the European cultural context and the degree of technical, stylistic and genre ties between the two, the festival programme was expanded this year adding a free educational programme — Urban Symphony: Experimental Urban Studies of the 1920s that examined the unique genre of that name that appeared in the 1920s. The audience was treated to 15 films among which were films from the Dovzhenko Archives, the British Film Institute (BFI), the National Archives of Georgia and TAMASA Distribution. Live musical improvisation was provided by pianist Mike Kaufman-Portnikov.
For the first time, the Kyiv-half of the festival programme offered a special section for festival-going families with children between the ages of four and ten. The children's programme — Hand Over your Kid at the Film Archive — with its ironic title brought the kids on a tour of the archives, the film restoration labs and the Film & Media Museum, and gave them a chance to create cartoon characters and some free form drawing and join in talks about clips from the "adult programme" and was a chance to have fun and meet new friends. Leading the effort were a Dovzhenko Centre education programme manager and an arts teacher.
We started off attempting to make archival cinema accessible. Our future objective is to make Mute Nights a truly national cinema festival of archival film, expanding both its limits and its programme
Ivan Kozlenko
General Director of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre and president of the Mute Nights Festival
A festival is a largely democratic form of art presentation to a broad audience. It gives you the chance to present a significant amount of information over an incredibly short time period, bringing together different aspects of your work, like research, education and entertainment.

The festival audience at the main programme numbered 750 in Kyiv and 700 in Odessa.
Plans for the next year
Next year, the organizers plan to continue our co-operation with the Envision Sound film training programme initiated by the British Council in Ukraine. Programme finalists will be able to work on soundtracks for silent movies and present them at the 2019 Mute Nights Festival. Also, in 2019, films will be accompanied by TIFF transcription which is an additional audio track played on headphones to assist people with visual impairment, making the event even more accessible.