from Hollywood’s blockbuster Highbrow Film Noir’s silver screen provides hours of peace in a dark shelter from the mediocre grind from 9am to 5pm. However, Ukrainian movie fans have begun to look for literal shelters in underground screenings that provide protection from the constant threat of missiles from the ground. After the February invasion of Russia closed cinemas across the country and stopped production, the country’s resilient film industry has undergone a tentative revival.

Located in downtown Kyiv, KINO 42 is located in about 20 of the city’s 50 cinemas that have reopened in the last few weeks. As the only underground cinema in the capital, it is a unique service for movie fans who are wary of air raids. The 42-seat screen, about 4 meters (13 feet) below street height, was reopened in June, and the next screen program is backlit above the newly added word “cinema shelter.” It was displayed on the board.

“Because it’s in the basement, it’s literally a cinema shelter,” business partner Ilko Gladshtein told AFP in the recent launch of a Ukrainian classic program. The theater, which first opened in 2019, has always been underground, which was once an unobtrusive aspect of its architecture, but Gladshtein says it has become a “unique selling point.” “KINO 42 is currently the safest cinema in Kyiv. We will not interrupt the show during the air raid,” he told AFP.

Zhovten film director Yulia Antitypova, 46, talks to an AFP journalist during an interview at Kyiv.

sold out

The 37-year-old film festival manager and film producer is amazed at the number of spectators at night, although the schedule has been moved forward to meet the curfew at 11:00 pm. “June is a tough month for film distribution, but we find that people are hungry for movies. We held three charity screenings and sent about $ 1,000 to the Ukrainian army,” he said. Said. “It gives us confidence to know that we are not only entertaining people, but doing what is important to the frontline army.”

Unlike the Multiplex, which screens Hollywood’s big release of the day, KINO42 has always prioritized Ukrainian films, and maintaining the country’s cultural identity has become particularly important since the invasion. The venue was expanded from once a week to three times in partnership with Dovzhenko Center, the largest film archive in the country, and all sold out. At the launch event last Thursday, KINO42 snapped all the tickets three days before the screening of a series of animated shorts from the 1980s and 90s, “Strange, Strange and Fantastic.”

Stanislav Bitiutskiy, a 38-year-old researcher at the Dovzhenko Center, states that every social or political upheaval evaluates Ukraine’s identity nationally. “It first happened during the Maidan Revolution,” he told AFP, explaining the aftermath of the deadly 2014 clash between protesters and security forces that led to the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. did. “Now, once again, we need to redefine our identity with art.”

“Another reality”

A little down the street, the much larger ground Zhovten Picturehouse dates back almost a century and was one of the first venues for Kyiv to reopen. The multi-screen playhouse screened Sergei Parajanov’s 1965 work Shadows of Forgotten on the night of the start of the Ukrainian classic program and sold out the 400-seat auditorium.

“We wanted to support the country’s economy and the psychological well-being of the people. Psychologists say that this kind of mental decompression and the opportunity to escape to another reality are very important.”

Here, the possibility of missile attacks is a constant threat. Zhovten suspends the screening for 20 minutes when the siren begins and asks the audience to go to a nearby shelter. If the alert lasts for a long time, the screening will be canceled and the customer will be asked to bring the ticket back on another day. The return to the silver screen was gradual, with ticket sales at around 30% of prewar figures. Attendance decreases each time a Russian missile collides with a private area. “But the human mind is very resilient,” says Antitypova. “Attendance will be restored in a few days-until the next strike.” – AFP

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