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Ukrainian curator joins jury of queer program at Berlinale 2023

Sasha Prokopenko, Head of Programming at the Kyiv International Short Film Festival (KISFF), joined the jury of the Teddy Award queer program at Berlinale 2023, which will take place February 16-26. The award has been presented since 1987, and Pedro Almodóvar was the first Teddy Award winner for «Law of Desire» (La ley del deseo) with Antonio Banderas in the title role. Representatives of the film industry from different countries are invited to be the jury members

In a commentary to DTF Magazine, Prokopenko notes that she «wasn’t expecting this invitation at all». Last year, the Teddy Award jury coordinator wrote to Sasha asking for a brief description of the festival experience and its relationship to queer cinema.

«I outlined my experience as a film curator and Head of Programming at KISFF in a few paragraphs, told them about the Sexuality Matters section, where we have been talking about sexuality, gender identity, equality, diversity and inclusiveness for four years now. And a week later I received an official letter inviting me to become a member of the Teddy Award jury», Sasha comments.

She specifies that «it’s hard for her to point out some specific criteria by which she evaluates films at festivals». But as a Head of Programming, «she is looking for daring works, experiments and fresh thoughts».

«Also, sometimes while watching a movie I have the thought: „Wow, I missed this kind of representation (of a certain group of people, for example) in movies. It would have been cool to watch movies like that when I was a teenager“. So that’s probably what I pay attention to when I’m a jury member», Sasha adds.


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Prokopenko has overseen the Sexuality Matters section of KISFF, which focuses on LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights, gender identity and sex positivity, since 2018. Sasha also curates the teen film program for the «Molodist» International Film Festival.

She has been working with independent Kyiv distributor KyivMusicFilm since 2016.

The Ukrainian feature film «Do You Love Me?» directed by Tonia Noyabrova will be shown as part of the Panorama program at Berlinale-2023. The events of the film are set on the eve of the collapse of the USSR. The story centers on 17-year-old Kira, who «witnesses the divorce of her parents, the collapse of one country and the birth of another».

«It’s my personal story of growing up and the story of the formation of a generation, — Tonia Noyabrova explained. — It’s my song about saying goodbye to childhood illusions and desperate search for love. My Kira is a symbol of my generation, the first generation of independent Ukraine».

Ukrainian films such as Roman Liubyi’s «Iron Butterflies», about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, Nadia Parfan’s short film «It’s a Date» and the film «Waking Up in Silence» by Mila Zhluktenko and Daniel Asadi Faezi will also be shown at the Berlinale.

A special screening of Sean Penn’s documentary «Superpower» will be part of the Berlinale 2023 program. It was filmed in Ukraine during 2022.

«Superpower» is about life in Ukraine after the start of a full-scale war on Feb. 24 and «the struggle between Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the actor and comedian who became president of Ukraine, and russian president Vladimir Putin». The film will also focus on the importance of art and artists during the war.

«The documentary, which was supposed to be a portrait of President Zelenskyy, has become a celebration of the spirit of a people…», the film’s description reads.

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