York graduate film students organize Solidarity with Ukraine event 

female wearing headphones working a camera

Film students in York University’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program are coming together to support the filmmaking community documenting the war in Ukraine by hosting Solidarity with Ukraine: Music, Poetry, and Film Screening at Nat Taylor Cinema on Friday, March 25 from 7 to 10 p.m. 

Speakers and artists are joining the event from all corners of the world virtually, including political activist Denis Pilash from Kyiv, Ukraine, to introduce director Sergei Loznitsa’s film Maidan. The film screening will be the main feature of this event. The 2014 documentary film focuses on the Euromaidan movement of 2013 and 2014 in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. It was filmed during the protests and depicts several aspects of the revolution, from peaceful rallies to bloody clashes between police and civilians. 

Solidarity with Ukraine event poster, material in the story duplicates the poster text
Solidarity with Ukraine event poster

Historian, theatre activist and Department of History Course Director at the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Oksana Dudko will be joining the event from Ukraine to present on the current situation, what is at stake and the global consequences. Poet and translator Ostap Kin will also join the event from New York to read Ukrainian war poetry, as well as composer and vocalist Anna Pidgorna from Vancouver who will share her music inspired by Ukrainian folklore. School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng will deliver opening remarks. 

York MFA graduate students are the primary organizers of the Solidarity with Ukraine event alongside partners Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at York University, York Graduate Film Student Association (GFSA), York University’s Graduate Student Association (YUGSA) and Goethe Institute

The student organizers explain “while the mainstream media portrayal of the Ukrainian war is being criticized as an informational psychological war operation, the role of the independent voice of filmmakers becomes crucial.” 

When the students approached AMPD Graduate Program Director of the MFA program Manfred Becker, Associate Professors John Greyson, Ali Kazimi and Professor Emeritus Philip Hoffman with the idea of hosting a solidarity screening, they received unwavering support to move forward with planning the event.  

“Vladislava Ilinskaya emailed from Odessa, Ukraine, between air-raid sirens: ‘More than anything else right now, I am afraid of silence.’ Leena Manimekalai, filmmaker and current grad student at York, understood this sentiment as a call to organize this event, to give room to those in our York U community that need to gather to come to terms with a war that – at this very moment – is destroying a people, country, and culture, while the world is looking on in shock,” notes Becker.  

Through the many forms of art being showcased at the event, the students explain art allows society to examine what it means to be human, to voice and express, and to bring people together in times of crisis to break the silence and stand up against imperialism. 

This event is open to all members of the York community. It is free to attend, and audience members are encouraged to donate to Docudays to support Ukrainian filmmakers who are bravely documenting the events of the war in Ukraine.  

The participating panellists will be projected live on the screen of Nat Taylor Cinema, and the film will have both physical and virtual screenings. Registration is required.