Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Kommersant, a Russian daily, has launched its pilot Ukrainian issue today.

Among other things, there's a story (in Russian) on how Ihor Strembitsky, the guy who won a Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, publicly refused to meet with Oksana Bilozir, one of the tackiest women in the world who also happens to be Ukraine's culture and tourism minister:

Oksana Bilozir, Ukraine's culture and tourism minister, is getting ready for a meeting with film director Ihor Strembitsky today. Strembitsky's film Podorozhni (Putniki/Wayfarers) won a Palme d'Or du Court Métrage at the Cannes Film Festival. However, the meeting may not take place - Mr. Strembitsky does not want to see the minister. The Cannes laureate spoke about his reasons for making this decision this past Saturday, at a news conference at the Cinema House, where the national première of [Podorozhni], which is [Strembitsky's] course work at the National Karpenko-Karyi University, took place.

In fact, the national première of Podorozhni took place on May 25 in the director's native village of Paryshcha (Nadvirnyansky district of Ivano-Frankivsk region), where Ihor Strembitsky and his wife Natalka Kononchuk, who had authored the screenplay, were treated like family. A memorial plate appeared on the wall of the school Mr. Strembitsky attended, and the desk he used to sit at acquired a Cannes plate. The village club's movie showing equipment has long been out of order, and that's why the film director arrived with his own DVD player and a disk with Podorozhni. The club was stuffed with people - they came to watch a film (on a TV screen placed on the stage) that had made their 32-year-old co-villager famous. It took 30 minutes to show a ten-minute film: Podorozhni was screened three times to allow those in the back rows to get a better view by rotating closer to the screen.


The man who had triumphed at the Cannes did not accept the invitation of minister of culture Oksana Bilozir to meet with him on May 31. Ihor Strembitsky's public refusal to "have his picture taken next to the minister of tourism" is, in a way, a counter-refusal. First, the ministry of culture did not react to the request of Natalka Kononchuk, the author of the screenplay, to fund their journey to the Cannes. After not hearing back from the ministry, Natalka Kononchuk went to the Studio 1+1's general producer Volodymyr Oseledchyk and the TV channel's honorary president Oleksandr Rodnyansky: eventually, they covered all the Cannes Film Festival-related expenses for the Podorozhni creators.

That's a good, healthy attitude, if you ask me. Strembitsky owes nothing to Bilozir, and she has no right to take any credit whatsoever for his hard-won success. I'm glad he had the guts to say this out loud and in front of many people.


Here's a little bit more on Strembitsky's documentary from the Cannes Film Festival website:


Oh lulla-lullaby, How I want to sleep, So I'll put my head, On the white bed, Maybe I will fall asleep... Film about childhood that never returns, about dreams that can't come true and about madness as a kind of happiness or grief.

I hope to have more on it when I see the film myself (I haven't yet).

Photo: AFP


And here's an anticlimactic news report on Oksana Bilozir from May 17, 2005 (posted in a Russian/Ukrainian-language anti-Bilozir community at

Ukraine's president Victor Yushchenko signed an order for Oksana Bilozir to resign from her post of the minister of culture and arts of Ukraine. [...]

[...] With another order, the president appointed Bilozir Ukraine's minister of culture and tourism.

(The English translation of Bilozir's Cabinet of Ministers bio says she's still Minister of Culture and Arts, while the Ukrainian-language version has already been updated - she's indeed our Minister of Culture and Tourism...)

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