100th anniversary of the All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration

Film poster for Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s ‘Zvenigora’ (1928)

The All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Adminstration (Vse-Ukrains’ke Foto Kino Upravlinnia, ВУФКУ – Всеукраїнське фоtокіноуправління) was founded on the 13th March 1922 by the National Commissar of Education of the Ukrainian SSR. Lenin realised that a more accommodating approach to Ukrainian nationalism would better serve Russia’s long-term interests and the separate development of the Ukrainian film industry independent of Goskino (Госкино), the RSFSR State Committee for Cinematography, was an example of this.

VUFKU rapidly grew a reputation for much more adventurous commissioning than Goskino and its successor Sovkino, training, employing, and promoting mostly Ukrainian directors and cinematographers, and their films. Its main studio was in Odesa (still exists as a film centre and museum) with two small studios in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and a larger one in Yalta. After the 1927 earthquake in Yalta a large new studio complex was built in Kyiv and the administrative offices moved there in 1928.

VUFKU was effectively closed down by the Moscow authorities in 1930, forced to merge as ‘Ukrainfilm’ with Soyuzkino (Sovkino’s successor) after accusations of Nationalism, Formalism and other ‘unacceptable behaviour’ by the authorities in Moscow. In the 1930s during Stalin’s suppression of the Ukrainian national revival many of its leading figures were imprisoned or executed.

In less than nine years the studios had produced over 140 full length feature films, and many documentaries, newsreels and animations. Films such as Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s ‘Ukrainian Trilogy’ (‘Zvenigora’ [1928], ‘Arsenal’ [1929], ‘Earth’ (‘Zemlya’) [1930]), and Dziga Vertov’s 1929 experimental masterpiece ‘Man with a Movie Camera‘, earned VUFKU an international reputation. It controlled all aspects of the cinematic process including film-making, film processing, screening, publicity, and education. The Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre in Kyiv is engaged in discovering, researching and restoring many other early masterpieces of Ukrainian cinema produced by VUFKU.

At the time of writing Ukraine and its culture are once again being attacked by Moscow, and the Dovzhenko Centre’s precious archive of over 7,000 Ukrainian and foreign films is under threat.

Fundraising for the Dovzhenko Centre:

Link to the Dovzhenko Centre:

Link to information about VUFKU:

For obvious reasons these links may not always work.

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