Odesa International Film Festival joins global HeForShe movement

In collaboration with UN Women, Odesa International Film Festival creates special HeForShe prize and festival hosts panels on women in film and on gender equality in action.

Date: Friday, August 16, 2019

Valeria Sochyvets and Philip Sotnychenko, producer and director of film project ’’La Palisiada’’, received the HeForShe prize in the Pitching section of the Film Industry Office. Photo: OIFF
Valeria Sochyvets and Philip Sotnychenko, producer and director of film project ’’La Palisiada’’, received the HeForShe prize in the Pitching section of the Film Industry Office. Photo: OIFF

The Odesa International Film Festival (OIFF), an Ukrainian film festival, recently joined HeForShe, the global solidarity movement for gender equality founded by UN Women, becoming HeForShe’s 25th strategic partner. As part of this partnership, OIFF and UN Women Ukraine created the HeForShe Prize, a new Film Industry Office award in the Pitching category that uses gender equality, human rights, and mutual support between women and men in plot or production to select films for award consideration.

"The Odesa International Film Festival has raised gender balance issues in its programming and events for years. However, gender imbalances and discrimination against women persist in our industry. As an international festival we cannot ignore these problems and are happy to join HeForShe, the international movement to achieve gender equality and women's rights," said Yulia Sinkevich, general producer of OIFF.

“We are here to advocate for creating equal opportunities for women and men in the film industry. It is important that we support both gender equality and the creation of interesting and wonderful cinematic art,” said Martin Hagström, the Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine. 

The special HeForShe prizes were awarded to La Palisiada and September 1, film projects made by male directors and female producers.

Guests of the special screening of the film The Vice of Hope at Rodina cinema in Odesa. Photo: UN Women/Anastasia Tiurmenko
Guests of the special screening of the film The Vice of Hope at Rodina cinema in Odesa. Photo: UN Women/Anastasia Tiurmenko

“This is a very touching award for me, because it's not easy to be a female producer in this male dominated industry. It is very important for us to get support,” said Olena Yershova, producer of the film September 1.

In addition, the OIFF in collaboration with UN Women Ukraine, held Women on the screen and beyond, a panel on gender equality. Moderated by TV anchor and HeForShe advocate in Ukraine Yaroslava Kravchenko, the panel included Iranian filmmaker Mania Akabari, Arthouse Traffic film company CEO, Denys Ivanov, and Voldymyr Voytenko, film critic and chairman of the Ukrainian Film Academy.

“Art has always been and will be subjective, but it still perpetuates stereotypes of “male” and “female” cinema. In my career, I’ve seen a lot of films but have yet to find a clear difference between films made by men and those made by women,” said Volodymyr Voitenko.

The Film Industry Office also hosted Principles of Gender Equality in Action, a panel discussion with representatives from the European Women’s Audiovisual (EWA) Network, the European Cinema Support Fund Eurimages and UN Women Ukraine.

“It is important to advance gender equality both through development work and by using movies and the film industry to raise this issue. It’s critical to push for this, as we’ve seen in films produced by men and women directors that bring to the surface hard stories on gender inequality,” said panel participant Dominika Stojanoska, UN Women Ukraine project manager.