I don’t think anyone is more surprised than we are as to the sheer longevity of The Creeping Garden’s life cycle on the international film festival circuit. Almost three years after its premiere at Fantasia in July 2014 and in the midst of a new wave of reviews and press attention for the Blu-ray/DVD release, we were delighted for the film to be invited to the fabulous Docudays UA in Kyiv, Ukraine.
It screened on Tuesday 28 March in the imposing Cinema House to a sold-out audience, included as part of the festival’s special ‘Homo Science’ focus, which also featured Werner Herzog’s Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (2016) and Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz’ Seed: The Untold Story (2016).
This time it was my (Jasper Sharp) turn to accompany The Creeping Garden, and I thoroughly enjoyed the warm reception from the festival organisers and the audience, who greeted both me and the film enthusiastically. Many stayed on for the post-screening Q&A, moderated by Kiril Beskorovayny, the editor of Kunsht a beautifully designed new print magazine, (sadly Ukrainian language only) that takes as its starting point the philosophy that science is art.
I enjoyed some fascinating chats with some of the audience members over the following days, and in general was really impressed with the levels of attendances, enthusiasm and engagement that greeted all the films screened.
Alas, three days at a festival rarely affords much time to sample much more than a tiny fraction of the programme, but it never really seems worth travelling far for a film festival without taking time to explore the city in question. Kyiv is certainly a welcoming place, although not one we get much of an impression of from the British media. I was massively impressed by its accessibility, its majestic architecture and a strong sense of a rich history, which I am embarrassed to confess, I know all too little about (it’s one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe). It’s far cheaper to get to than I imagined, and incredibly reasonably priced when you’re there.
During my walking tour of the city, I noted the bitter irony that while I was standing in the awe-inspiring Maidan Nezalezhnosti – the square at the heart of the city that hit international headlines in 2014 when around 100 people died during the clash between pro-European Union protestors and police that marked the climax of the Revolution of Dignity – our Prime Minister was in the very city to which we both accompanied our film just two years ago for its screening at Offscreen to begin the formal process of our own country’s departure from the EU.
Events such as Docudays UA really emblemise the spirit of open-mindedness and international cooperation and collaboration that we aimed to celebrate in The Creeping Garden. I am most certain that this won’t be my last time in Ukraine, nor at the festival itself.