November 04, 2022

VUFKU: Independence and Innovation

An Online Conference Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration (1922-1930)

VUFKU (All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration) existed for less than nine years (1922-1930), but it managed to produce over 140 fiction films, several hundred non-fiction films and newsreels, dozens of animations, be described as “Ukrainian Hollywood,” and take under its control all aspects of the cinematic process—filmmaking, distribution, film press, propaganda, and education.

Economic success, cultural autonomy, and inclusive HR policies allowed VUFKU to involve the brightest artists, directors, cameramen, scriptwriters, critics of its time and become an international platform for many interdisciplinary experiments.  Among the most notable were Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Ivan Kavaleridze, Vasyl Krychevskyi, Danylo Demutskyi, Petro Chardynin, Les Kurbas, Mykhail Semenko, Yurko Tiutiunnyk, and Yurii Yanovskyi.

After 1929, Soviet charges of bourgeois nationalism, formalism, and other unacceptable “perversions” led to the subordination of independent VUFKU to the all-union enterprise Soyuzkino and its transformation into a regional branch.  In the following years, many of VUFKU’s representatives were repressed or physically exterminated. Those who managed to immigrate integrated themselves into film industries of other countries and became a part of their history.  Since then, the vast majority of Ukrainian films were deemed “Soviet” and/or “Russian” and were taken to Moscow, with many of the best works of Ukrainian cinema of that time circulating as part of the “Russian avant-garde.”


The Conference is sponsored by Indiana University’s Center for Documentary Research and Practice and the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the U.S.