Ukrainian Collective Tabor, Winners of Visions du Réel Industry Award, on War Trilogy
“The Days I Would Like to Forget” by Ukrainian film collective Tabor, which picked up the top industry award at international documentary festival Visions du Réel, is a trilogy project that examines the consequences of war.
It is directed by Alina Gorlova (“No Obvious Signs,” “This Rain Will Never Stop”), Maksym Nakonechnyi (“Butterfly Vision,” “This Rain Will Never Stop”), Simon Mozgovyi (“Salt From Bonneville,” “The Winter Garden’s Tale”) and Yelizaveta Smith (“Solitude,” “Butterfly Vision”), who have been working together and documenting the war in their country for close to a decade.
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The project is divided into three 70-minute chapters: “Human & War,” which examines the impact of war on everyday life, “Death & Life,” which focuses on the perception of death during the Russian-Ukrainian war, and “Space & Time,” which investigates the link between the war in Ukraine and other parts of the world.
Gorlova, who was in Nyon to pick up the award together with producer Eugene Rachkovsky, told Variety how all four directors started filming the war in the immediate aftermath of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Feb. 24, 2022.
“It was instinctive at first, we thought it was important to document everything that was going on. We all started doing it in parallel. Later, when we watched the footage and realized that this war affects our present, our future, and our past, we thought we should make a film out of it,” she said.
The collective is hoping to complete a rough cut of the first film in Ukraine by this autumn, before moving post-production and final editing to either France or Austria where co-producers Nabil Bellahsene (Les Valseurs) and Ralph Wieser (Mischief Films) are based.
“We are so close to the material and what is going on, so we are interested in exploring how it is perceived from the outside,” explained Rachkovsky.
Asked how they plan to ensure a cohesive visual style for all three chapters, Gorlova said: “All our previous films were made in this form of collaboration, we have been working together for around 10 years: we edit each other’s films, co-write, and produce each other’s films. We are using the same DOPs who know our visual style, and we are all working in the same style and rhythm while shooting.”
The directors, who are the same age as their country’s independence from the Soviet Union, started shooting their first films in 2013 during the Maidan Square protests, and went on to Eastern Ukraine when the Donbas war broke out in 2014.
Gorlova told Variety that while working on chapter two, which deals with the collective trauma of war, she got a better understanding of why Europe had been slow to send weapons to Ukraine at the start of the Russian invasion last year.
“I can compare their experience to mine when this war was only in the East of Ukraine: the war seemed so far. There is a real parallel, because I also thought that we shouldn’t be so radical, that we should negotiate. But when you are very close to this monster, you understand that you can never negotiate. This monster will never be full, it will always be hungry,” she said.
For the third chapter, the filmmakers plan to travel to Ethiopia to illustrate how the war in Ukraine, one of the world’s major grain producers, is affecting other countries in the world.
“We decided to follow the grain from the East and the South of Ukraine where farmers are harvesting, sometimes on the frontline, to show how it is being exported to other parts of the world. Ethiopia has many farmers and big storage facilities for this grain, which is then distributed to neighboring countries,” explained Gorlova.
The directors plan on releasing chapter one in 2024 and chapters two and three in 2025. A single 90-minute re-edited version of all three films will be broadcast on Franco-German channel Arte as part of its Generation Ukraine program.
Nakonechnyi’s “Butterfly Vision” world premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section last year and Gorlova’s “This Rain Will Never Stop” premiered at IDFA in 2020. Both went on to pick up multiple awards on the festival circuit.
“The Days I Would Like to Forget” was one of 15 projects being pitched during Visions du Réel’s industry days that ran April 24 through 27 in Nyon, Switzerland.
The festival wraps up on April 30.
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