Pavlo Ostrikov on his award-winning filmmaking

Pavlo Ostrikov, a talented director, has been making films since 2013. After studying law for three years, he understood that he wouldn’t become a prominent lawyer. Instead, he felt a strong urge to filmmaking which gave an inspiration to move further in this direction. After making his short film Graduation ‘97, his life has changed tremendously: he won prizes at Locarno Film Festival and and Leuven Short Film Festival and got a nomination at European Film Awards 2018.

“It’s interesting that earlier I couldn’t even imagine that my life would be connected to film, as I grew up in a small town where dreams were small as well.”

Becoming the director

The first film by Pavlo Ostrikov was made in association with his friends: Evgeniy Golovanchuk, Ksenia Gerasimenko and Yulia Tumoshenko. At the very beginning of their career together they were filming advertising, videos and infographics. They could barely earn their living from it, however, the young people had a chance to do what they were fond of. After some time of producing small projects, Pavlo understood that he was eager to make a short film. Despite some technical problems, the debut of the film was quite successful. Young filmmakers were noticed and it’s the most important thing for the first film.

Pavlo doesn’t work as a lawyer, nevertheless, filmmaking isn’t his main job as well. Pavlo complains, “Unfortunately, it’s quite complicated to make movies in Ukraine, especially, if we are talking about our own projects, not about films for TV.”

Participating in festivals

A short film Graduation ‘97, produced by Yuri Minzyanov, became a kind of an ice breaker for Pavlo Ostrikov which paved the path to his dreams. The director won Junior Jury Award at Festival del Film Locarno, Best Short Film Award at Odessa International Film Festival and Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival, and got a nomination at European Film Academy. What is more, the film took part in Wiz-Art Festival, Polish Festival Zubroffka and Eastern Neighbors Film  Festival in Netherlands. Pavlo also commented, “We have already received two more confirmations about selection of Graduation ‘97 at famous film festivals, however it’s a secret.”

Locarno Film Festival

The news that Graduation ‘97 got into Locarno Film Festival caught Pavlo up by surprise. It was a really turning point for Ukrainian director, as he didn’t even dream of showing his story at one of the biggest festivals around the world. Actually, Pavlo didn’t think that he could get something there, but after the demonstration of the film he had a hope, as audience approved the movie. Pavlo remembers, “The family of Ukrainian people who moved to Switzerland ten years ago came to me and told that they were happy to watch Ukrainian film in the competition, as it happens not so often, it was wonderful to hear the Ukrainian language. It’s amazing when you give some happiness to people.” After the demonstration of the films there was a meeting of directors of all films with audience, where they were able to ask questions and give feedback. It was extremely informal, that’s why such format appealed to everyone. Pavlo says, “Every day at the festival there were creative meetings with remarkable experts, such as Adrien Brody, for instance. Furthermore, we had an opportunity to meet all the directors of our program, what, surely, broadened our mind.” Pavlo adds that visiting festivals is always an emotional impulse for future work on the projects for him, because these are places with unbelievable atmosphere where the watchers have an opportunity to get acquainted with new stories. Here it is always possible to meet interesting people who think the same way as he does.

“Every day at the festival there were creative meetings with remarkable experts, such as Adrien Brody, for instance. Furthermore, we had an opportunity to meet all the directors of our program, what, surely, broadened our mind.”

Getting Jury’s attention

It’s difficult to say what actually captures the judges in the short film Graduation ‘97 of Pavlo Ostrikov, as he never tried either to analyze film trends or to make improbable films. He told a story of loneliness that is universal for all countries, but with Ukrainian coloring. Perhaps, this makes sense to create a universal and unique product at the same time.

Leuven International Short Film Festival

At Leuven International Short Film Festival the team of Pavlo Ostrikov got a Jury Nomination for European Film Academy. It’s a serious step for Ukrainian director, as in December 2018 they represented Ukraine at the major festival of Europe. Pavlo tells, “We didn’t know what to expect, but I was already happy.”

The idea of creating Graduation ‘97

Pavlo recalls, that he came up with the idea of Graduation ‘97 was when he was strolling on Podil in Kyiv and saw the seller of TV antennas at the market. No one came to him and it seemed that he had been sitting so lonely not even for a hour. That’s how Pavlo found his character for the film. It was only one challenge left – to create the story of his life which would be interesting for everyone. Seeking for love is almost the only sense of our short life, therefore it’s the main topic of all Pavlo’s films. The world premiere of Graduation ‘97 was at Odessa Film Festival. It was there that the Ukrainian director understood that he wanted to make movies long time ago and in a few years he stood on the stage presenting his own film.

Symbols in the film

Pavlo tried to make film deep on different levels, however, everything works on one idea that loneliness poisons our life. He doesn’t want to tell us about all symbols or subtext which he put there. Pavlo laughs, “Let a viewer enjoy the movie without any clues.”

Support of the closest people

The work on plot continued for a few months. Friends of Pavlo helped him, as he always shares his thoughts with them. However, the greatest helper was a girlfriend of the director, Evgenia Babenko, who believed in this story from the very beginning. Young man even was ready to defeat, but Evgenia assured him that this film should be watched by as many people as possible. Pavlo Ostrikov confesses, “I don’t like the process of shooting, as it’s a big stress for me. Nonetheless, the crew was excellent and we dealt with all problems.” Pavlo finds the cast of the film great: Olexandr Pozarskyi and Olesya Ostrovska played their characters extremely superb. The main purpose was to find such great actors, and this is the merit of Casting Director Alla Samoilenko.

Project in Les Arcs

Recently Pavlo has been to co-production village Les Arcs where together with Volodymyr Yatsenko he presented a full-length film You are space. If everything is ok, soon it will be the first full-length film for Pavlo the plot of which he he’s been writing for four years. This is the story about the last love in the Universe for the whole humanity, so it’s a sad film, but with humor.

Let’s wish Pavlo good luck and hope for more important nominations for his short film!

Do you want more short films? Check out Euregion Film Festival Program and watch great films!

Over de auteur

Sofia Piven

Sofia Piven is currently studying Journalistics and International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Having always been interested in writing articles, she was one of the editors of school newspaper and author for local newspapers and magazines.

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