The Kharkiv Trilogy

A number of Mykola Ridnyi’s films and series of photographs relate to his hometown Kharkiv. Ukraine’s second largest city, this scientific, cultural and logistical center became particularly fragile because of its geographical proximity to the Russian border. Three of his films, Regular Places (2015), NO! NO! NO! (2017) and The District (2023) form a trilogy which expresses social, political, and urban transformations in the city over the last decade.

After the screening in Between Bridges foundation, as a part of Kyiv perennial in Berlin, the film program will be presented in open-air format in the Kharkiv Park, located in Steglitz-Zehlendorf district. Previously nameless park behind the Schwartz villa opposite the Steglitz roundabout was named Kharkiv Park in October 2022 as a gesture of solidarity with Kharkiv citizens and in memory of victims in Russian war against Ukraine.

In the film Regular Places, the confrontation between supporters of an independent Ukraine and European integration on the one hand and “separatists” who wanted to join Russia on the other strongly affected the city of Kharkiv. The street confrontations that ended with the defeat of the pro-Russian movement left behind traumas that marked the city for several years. In the film, the sounds of violence from the past break into the scenes of the relatively peaceful life that followed.

The main heroes of NO! NO! NO! are young people from Kharkiv. Reaching their early twenties coincided with the breakout of the war in the neighboring region of Donbas. A queer activist and poet, a fashion model, a group of street artists, a creator of a computer games – all of them are artists or working in the creative industries, typical of peaceful life in a big city. However, the proximity to the war affects each of the characters and their activities.

The District recites the artist’s memories of places of his childhood and youth that no longer exist. In 2022, a neighborhood of Northern Saltivka in Kharkiv became a frontline in the Russian invasion and suffered significant destruction. A walk through the “ghost district” forges a coexistence of past and present, outward and inward landscapes, facts and recollections.