After the end of the Odessa Film Festival I paid a visit to the Odessa Film Studios. The grounds of the film studios where many great films have been shot have recently been reduced to a state of almost absolute penury. This fact felt especially obscene the day after the Film Festival's Closing Ceremony. The attempt to attract Hollywood Stars and worldwide film celebrities whether Geraldine Chaplin or Claudia Cardinale and to add glamour to a film festival presided over by the wife of the Vice-President of the Ukraine made the Odessa Film Festival by far the most expensive in Ukraine. And yet here in the heart of cinematic Odessa was a once great film studio falling apart, the victim of a de facto raider capitalist swoop on the grounds of this priceless piece of cinematic history. The studio is the one place in Odessa where unique exhibits and archives on the history of film of the city are kept and is testimony to the unique cinematic history of this multinational city. I tried in a blog post last year to give a short account of some of the moments of this history:
That all this history risks being lost due to the criminal style privatisation process in place in which seven hectares of land is at risk of being appropriated by raider capitalists would be an unbearable end to this story. If phony red carpets and the ersatz glitz of a pet project of an oligarchs wife can open the coffers of the Ukrainian state, surely the much more modest expenditure involved in bringing a part of Odessa's film history back to life and saving this precious location from destruction and real estate development is of even greater urgence. The city of Josif Timchenko, Vera Kholodnaya, Isaac Babel, the city where Dovzhenko shot his first four films, of Genrikh Gabai, the studios where Marlen Khutsiev shot his first two films, the film studio of choice of Kira Muratova and Stanislav Govorukhin and where many films with the legendary Vladimir Vysotsky were filmed. Where even the Nobel Prize for literature Joseph Brodsky was to act in a small role. The idea that these film studios and this history should be slowly left to ruin and end up in the hands of raider capitalists is an obscenity which would scar the reputation of the city of Odessa beyond all measure. Some campaign of solidarity with those who battle every day to preserve this precious and irreplaceable heritage is surely in order.