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Brits By the (Black) Seaside

Blackmail - soon to be seen on Odessa's famous Potemkin Stairs

July 2014 | Odessa, Ukraine

Despite difficult circumstances, Odessa's film festival will be a celebratory affair this week - and includes a line up of UK greats.

The 5th Odessa International Film Festival runs from 11–19 July and we've been working with the Festival to ensure a strong UK presence. We have been working with OIFF since its inception and are delighted to continue the relationship this year with some top notch guests and films as part of the programme.

Heading the line-up, Stephen Frears will be attending to receive a Life Time Achievement Award and present a retrospective of his films (to include Philomena, Tamara Drewe, Cheri and My Beautiful Laundrette). In a first, the festival will stage an open-air screening of Philomena on the Langeron Descent (little sister to the more famous Potemkin Stairs) which will screen to an anticipated audience of three thousand people. As Stephen says:
"The Odessa steps have been in my head for over 50 years.  I can't wait to see them!"

The outdoor screenings are a special feature of the Festival and are always hugely popular. This year the honour of presenting a film on the Potemkin Stairs goes to BFI Head Curator, Robin Baker, who will introduce the wonderfully restored silent version of Hitchcock’s Blackmail, with live accompaniment by the Odessa Symphonic Orchestra.  The anticipated audience of 15,000 people wil include UK Ambassador His Excellency Simon Smith and British Council Ukraine Director Martin Dowle.

Elsewhere at the Festival Summer School, Peter Webber (Girl With A Pearl Earring) will deliver a Masterclass to students on 'The Death of Cinema', and Lord Puttnam will be a virtual presence giving an online lecture for students on 'Digital Directions – Opportunities and Challenges For Film In The Internet Age'.

Our engagement with Ukraine is not limited to our work with OIFF; in June we brought Victoria Leshchenko, Programme Coordinator of the international human rights-themed documentary festival Docudays UA (based in Kiev) to Sheffield Doc/Fest and Ilya Dyadik, Programme Director of Ukrainian distributor Arthouse Traffic, to Edinburgh International Film Festival. Arthouse Traffic have been the partners in our annual British Film Festival for the last eight years and will be working with us again on the next edition later this year, due to tour six Ukrainian cities in November.