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Giornate degli Autori - Mostra del Cinema di Venezia

“Photophobia”, interview with the directors Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík

todaySeptember 9, 2023

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Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík, directors, "Photophobia". Trying to live normally, in a refuge underground, sheltering form the war on the surface.

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    "Photophobia", interview with the directors Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík Angelo Acerbi

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“Photophobia” by Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík is a an astounding drama set in the Karkhiv metro station in Ukraine, transformed into a shelter for the people to escape the war happening on the surface. Telling the story of a friendship between two kids, the film is also a sheer documentation of how to live and survive underground, with the dynamics and the rules of a forced cohabitation in restricted spaces. “Photophobia” by Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík has been presented in Giornate degli Autori section 2023.

Weeks of living underground

Ivan Ostrochovskj and Pavol Pekarčík, the two directors of “Photophobia” lived for weeks while shooting underground in the subway station; shooting times were not long, and they had to make themselves accepted and  trusted by the people living there, not to exploit them, but to tell their story.

Casting the real people

There was no other choice in order to be honest with the people there and with the audience, to choose the actors among those who were living in the subway station at that moment. Kids were amazing and passionate and fun, as they adapt easily and they are still kids who want to have fun and play, luckily for them.


Plot

On a cold February morning, 12-year-old Niki and his family arrive at the Kharkiv metro station to take shelter from the terrifying war raging outside. For Niki's family, daylight is synonymous with mortal danger, and the boy is not allowed to leave the station premises, living under the constant glow of their neon lights. While aimlessly wandering around the abandoned cars and full platforms, Niki meets Vika (11), and a new world opens up to him. As their bond strengthens, the children find the courage once again to feel the sun on their faces.

Written by: Angelo Acerbi

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