IMAGO: Showing support for Ukraine

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IMAGO: Showing support for Ukraine



On 9th March, we (Ella van den Hove SBC and Philippe Cordey SCS BVK, IMAGO Education Committee co-chairs) received an unexpected and dramatic mail from fellow IEC Board member, Oleksander Kryshtalovych UGC stating: “Hallo! As a teacher, I’m asking you to help with the evacuation of my students in Europe to continue their education. Thank you for your help.”  

Kryshtalovych is teaching cinematography at Kyiv National Ivan Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television University in Ukraine. Some days later, in a WhatsApp video call, Kryshtalovych stated that out of his 18 students, only eight young female students were able to leave the country, as all male students had to stay.  

Kryshtalovych’s next communication revealed that 14 students cannot or will not leave Ukraine, but one student had reached Germany, one had made it to Estonia, and two had reached Poland.  

The IEC is working on a non-profit, no-budget basis, so we would rather be creative in finding any possible ways to pass information to the BA-Level students back in Ukraine and to facilitate their continuation in film studies somewhere in Europe. 

The IEC network gathered vital information, summarised into a modest roadmap delineating all administrative and country-specific refugee policies, as Europe can be an administrative maze in such urgent, frail situations. We rapidly figured out that language can also present a problem, as most courses are carried in local languages or in English.  

The roadmap was eventually passed to the students, giving them opportunities to choose a viable alternative to their studies and be able to travel, by their own means (refugees can travel for free all across Europe in order for them to reach hosting countries). 

Our colleagues from all around the globe responded and the first outcomes were – on a modest scale – extremely beneficial to the refugee students:  

Thanks to Marc De Backer SBC and the IAD Film School (B) Director’s efforts and generous help, four students are already attending film classes. Ella van den Hove SBC is equally raising awareness among other Flemish film schools in Brussels.  

Gabriella Reisinger AAC has planned a visit for two students at the Vienna Filmakademie (MDW) in September. Tony Costa AIP (Lusofona University) has also managed one invitation.  

Recently, we also organised a video call with Dariia Koshelkova (faculty of Feature Film Direction) and Rusliachenko (faculty of Cinematography), two students who have been offered temporary camera trainee positions at Nubojana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria. Both are eager to raise money to help their parents and finance their language proficiencies whilst waiting for their school’s studies certificates until their enrolment in a film course begins in September. Elen Lotman ESC is currently in touch with both of them and is facilitating their potential enrolment at the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School – part of Tallinn University.  

Rusliachenko shared details of her recent experiences. “On 24 February, I was on my way to shoot some of my course work when my friend called me and said, ‘Kyiv is being bombed.’ My first thought was that my actors would not be able to come to the shoot,” she said. “After a couple of minutes of shock, I started to pack my suitcase. I’m not too sure what was going through my mind, but I just knew I had to leave Kyiv. My hometown, where my parents were, was being bombed too, so I decided to go to the countryside with my best friend. 

“We were without electricity, water, and communication for two weeks. And then we decided to run away from the hell. Now we are both in Bulgaria, working at a film studio, doing something to distract us from thinking about war. At our university, we can’t study normally. Most of the teachers and students are in Ukraine and the air alarms and dangerous conditions make it impossible to study. We were doing everything we could, and we wanted to continue our studying. 

“That’s why it was really useful when Philippe Cordey and Ella Van den Hove helped us to understand what we need and explained about each university’s specialisation. Now we’re communicating with different countries and the universities based there to send them our showreels and documents.” 

Kim Batterham ACS, Head of Cinematography AFTRS, and Ron Johanson OAM ACS, from Australia, provided supportive information about the ongoing efforts to maintain contact with the students: “Also, CILECT organised a link up with staff and students from the Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. They met with a number of film schools around the world and talked for two hours about their situation. The students have dispersed themselves out of Kyiv, either back to their hometowns or to other places of relative safety. It was a sobering and moving session. At a minimum, we will supply relevant online learning resources.”

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