‘A Picture To Remember’ by Olga Chernykh, co-produced by Ukraine, Germany and France, is a collage film and a look at the war from the perspective of three generations of women within the director’s family. The main characters of the film are Chernykh, her mother and her grandmother, who is still in russian-occupied Donetsk. This is also the first Ukrainian film chosen as the opening film of one of the most authoritative documentary film festivals in the world — IDFA in Amsterdam. World media, in particular Variety and Screen Daily, have already released favorable reviews, and we present the Ukrainian trailer for ‘A Picture To Remember’ and tell more about the film
‘By building her film around three generations of women in her family, Chernykh carries us to the daily experience of Ukrainians today. The director does not shy away from trying to build a cinematic world with fragile elements. The courage and originality of the film’s approach opens up to a much larger world view. That’s what places films like ‘A Picture To Remember’ at the heart of IDFA’, said IDFA’s Artistic Director, Orwa Nyrabia.
Olga Chernykh started filming ‘A Picture To Remember’ in the fall of 2019, when she accidentally found an old 70-kilogram camera at her mother’s workplace, at the Department of Pathological Anatomy (by the way, except for herself, all members of the director’s family are medics), and decided to restore it. Although the director had the idea to shoot a story about the power and importance of memory long before.
‘The film has changed a lot since the beginning of the work, — Olga tells DTF Magazine in a commentary. — After the full-scale invasion, I rethought my approach to storytelling and visual language. However, the first two years of project development and shooting were very important, and the film contains footage from all the years of shooting, even from the first shooting day’. Chernykh completed the final edit in August 2023.
Кадри з фільму «Фото на пам’ять»
The main feature of ‘A Picture To Remember’ is a story ‘created through associative emotional editing with various visual layers and close interaction of the image with the director’s own voiceover narration’.
‘We create a reality in which time and space are mixed, there is immersion and the feeling of dreams and memories, in which the characters of the film are, and the viewer is there with them. But at the same time, the film has a clear structure and story, all the plot lines have their own rhythm, development and finale’.
The film focuses on the personal history of Olga and her family, but she is not afraid of such frankness, because she is convinced that the more candid and open you are, the more universal the story becomes: ‘In documentary films, I am always interested in the author’s place and presence. If we film and show someone’s life, we must be ready to talk about ourselves. So, it was important for me not to hide behind the other characters in the film. And in general, I think we lack honest films that are daring in their frankness and sincerity’.
Кадри з фільму «Фото на пам’ять»
One of the film’s heroines, Olga’s grandmother, is in russian-occupied Donetsk. The last time the director saw her was in 2021, and since then she has kept in touch with her only online. Especially for the film Chernykh organized joint calls with her mother and grandmother. Olga believes that among their common family traits are faith in a bright future and disobedience to circumstances, although each of the women reacts to them and life changes in different ways, ‘choosing their own way of overcoming them’.
‘A Picture To Remember’ premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) on November 8, 2023. This is the first time a Ukrainian film has become the opening film of IDFA, one of the leading documentary film festivals, which will last until November 19.
‘A Picture To Remember’ has been selected for the Envision Competition. This year’s Envision Competition presents ‘12 unparalleled films, each of them stylistically arresting, as visionary filmmakers forge new cinematic languages’.
These are films that refuse to abide by conventional film structures and focus on the personal stories of their directors and their subjective perceptions of the world.