Oleh Sentsov’s latest film “REAL” selected at 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Jun 12, 2024

The upcoming film by Ukrainian director and activist Oleh Sentsov, “REAL”, will be part of the Special Screenings at the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (June 28th – July 6th).

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in Ukraine, Ukrainian director and Sakharov prize recipient Oleh Sentsov joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Oleh unpredictably resumed his work as a director after he filmed in the nearest trench the organisation of the evacuation of his under attack unit, via radio. On the position with the code name “Real”, Oleh switched the camera occasionally and shot 88 minutes of footage.

In a recent interview with Scott Roxborough from the “Hollywood Reporter”, Oleh Sentsov discussed his vision of the film, including his initial thoughts when he discovered the filmed material. “I didn’t think it would be interesting for anyone”, he says, “and I  wanted to erase it. But then I started to watch it and I  recognized that, oh my god, this is part of this very  tragic event, with so many people in the trenches, cut  off and surrounded by Russians. Our friends, my friends.”

Oleh then sent over this material to his producer, Denis Ivanov (AT Films), providing a unique opportunity to see the war from a combatant point of view.

The battle itself is off-screen, the spectator only sees the trench and hears the radio negotiations between the different battle participants. The film is designed to be as immersive as possible and is intended for theatrical release, so that the viewer’s experience is authentic.

In the Hollywood Reporter interview, Sentsov insists on this important characteristic of the film: “My idea and my goal were to show the real war, the real people right in front of me at this moment in time. I call it an immersive experience: you are thrown in and you only slowly start to understand what’s going on. It really drags you into the trenches and helps you to feel what it’s like to be there.”

A co-production was formed with Croatian-based company Propeler Film to help the project move along. As Denis Ivanov explains, “the relationship goes much beyond production and post-production: it’s about making the film come to life and helping it find its way to spectators, to meet its audience”.

The project received ESFUF Finalisation support in December 2023. The post-production mainly focused on improving the general quality of the picture, shot with Oleh’s GoPro, and on the film’s sound.

Oleh, while being at the front, was extremely involved in the post-production process, which took place in Ukraine. “During the short military leaves he had”, Ivanov says, “Oleh went to the studio in Kyiv and worked, together with the sound designer, on recreating the atmosphere of the film”.

Oleh Sentsov is still serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and is planning to pursue his service, so “it is difficult to say more, as of now, on his creative projects for the immediate future”, Ivanov adds, “although we all wish he will be back to his profession as a filmmaker as soon as possible”.