Best Ukrainian movies

by felixum8888 | created - 22 Sep 2012 | updated - 25 Sep 2016 | Public

Best Ukrainian movies over years, from the silent era to nowadays. Interesting and underappreciated abroad films. You won't understand two third of the plots unless you are Ukrainian. But... whatever. And yeah, imdb, why don't you have all the films?

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1. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964)

97 min | Drama, Music, Romance

A timeless Carpathian story - the young Ivan falls in love with the daughter of his father's killer among the Hutsul people of Ukraine.

Director: Sergei Parajanov | Stars: Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larisa Kadochnikova, Tatyana Bestayeva, Spartak Bagashvili

Votes: 4,971

It's a pure masterpiece. The story about Romeo and Juliet from the Ukrainian Carpathians, where life and love are full of mysticism, ancient half pagan half Christian traditions. Visually perfect adaptation of Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky novel of the same name.

2. Zemlya (1930)

Unrated | 75 min | Drama

In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.

Director: Aleksandr Dovzhenko | Stars: Stepan Shkurat, Semyon Svashenko, Yuliya Solntseva, Yelena Maksimova

Votes: 4,132

Back in the sixties Dovzhenko's silent masterpiece was in the top 10 films of all times. This film is all about symbolistic images and what later became the ABC of filmmaking

3. Bilyy ptakh z chornoyu vidznakoyu (1971)

99 min | Drama, War

Colourful 'optimistic tragedy' of a poor family in Ukraine, living in the Carpathian mountains near the Romanian border, during the Second World War. Five sons of the family make up the ... See full summary »

Director: Yuri Ilyenko | Stars: Larisa Kadochnikova, Ivan Mykolaichuk, Bogdan Stupka, Yuri Mikolajchuk

Votes: 250

That is the cult film for Ukrainians as it is about how policy and war disunite the family. Perfect directing, perfect acting. The director managed to put Ukrainian insurgent army partisan as one of the main characters.

4. Swan Lake: The Zone (1990)

96 min | Drama

This film tells what it was like to live in the USSR with brutal reality. A convict is forced to hide within a model of a hammer and sickle. Here a tragic romance ensues between the convict and woman worker.

Director: Yuri Ilyenko | Stars: Viktor Solovyov, Lyudmila Yefimenko, Pylyp Ilyenko, Mayya Bulgakova

Votes: 116 | Gross: $0.03M

"Swan Lake. The Zone". The film is like an obituary to the decaying Soviet Union. A man escape from the prison and hiding inside the Sickle and Hammer monument. A woman accidentally finds him. They fell in love but a man is wanted...

5. Holod 33 (1991)

115 min | Drama, History

This film looks at the artificial famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine through the eyes of a single family. The famine, which killed millions of people, was the result of a Soviet policy intended ... See full summary »

Director: Oles Yanchuk | Stars: Galina Sulima, Georgi Morozyuk, Aleksey Gorbunov, Maksim Koval

Votes: 254

"Famine-33". Gloomy, hard to watch but true film about one of the most horrible tragedies in Ukrainian history - organised by Soviet authorities famine that took away several millions lives in 1932-33. Based upon Vasyl Barka's novel "Yellow Prince"

6. Enthusiasm (1931)

Not Rated | 67 min | Documentary

How the miners of the Don coal basin (one of the industrial regions of Ukraine) were striving to fulfill in four years their part of the Five Year Plan.

Director: Dziga Vertov

Votes: 610

"Enthusiasm. The DOnbass Symphony". The first sound documentary in the world by unsurpassed experimental director Dziga Vertov. Tells about Soviet industrialization in Ukrainian Donbas region. Conversed sequence of the communist star overthrown from the church dome is one of the must see scenes.

7. Vechir na Ivana Kupalal (1968)

71 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

Piotr is a modest farmhand living in an impoverished village in some unspecified long ago era. He wants to marry the lovely Pidorka, but her stern father won't hear of it. Luckily, the ... See full summary »

Director: Yuri Ilyenko | Stars: Boris Khmelnitskiy, Larisa Kadochnikova, Yefim Fridman, Dmitri Franko

Votes: 258

"Ivan Kupala's Day Eve". You won't get the plot, don't even try, unless you are aware of Ukrainian mythology. Director worked on cinematography for "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors". Visually impressive and poetic story. Film was persona non grata in the USSR.

"The Stone Cross". This beautiful black and white film tells the story of Ukrainian peasant family in the beginning of the 20th century. The Didukh family is leaving for Canada forever. The grandpa asks to install a burial cross on the land as a reminder of them. Very good direction and cinematography. The "farewell to the homeland" dance scene is necessary to see.

9. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Not Rated | 68 min | Documentary, Music

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Director: Dziga Vertov | Star: Mikhail Kaufman

Votes: 19,134

It's Dziga Vertov, well, this film made history of the cinema. Why is it Ukrainian? It was shot mostly in Kyiv and Odessa by Vertov working in Ukraine at that time. And Dziga, his pseudo, is a Ukrainian word for a spinning top.

10. Rodnik dlya zhazhdushchikh (1965)

70 min | Drama

The old man who lives a secluded life in the desert, alone with only his memories and photographs.

Director: Yuri Ilyenko | Stars: Dmitri Milyutenko, Larisa Kadochnikova, Nina Alisova, Dzhemma Firsova

Votes: 218

The allusive film about Ukrainian peasantry and how it was exterminated by the Soviets. Shot black and white.This movie was banned in the USSR for 22 year period.

11. Las Meninas (2008)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama

A family of four lives in the suburbs household. Through a complex interplay of light and mirrors, it's more art installation than a house. The main character is a son in early thirties who... See full summary »

Directors: Ihor Podolchak, Dean Karr | Stars: Mykola Veresen, Lyubov Tymoshevska, Hanna Yarovenko, Dmytro Chernyavsky

Votes: 78

Arthouse. Director's interpretation of 1656 painting "Las Meninas" by Diego Velasquez. Rotterdam film festival competitor.

12. Raspad (1990)

103 min | Drama

1986. Chernobyl disaster. Couples, friends, and a risk-taking journalist are woven into the larger framework of the disaster. Panic follows.

Director: Mikhail Belikov | Stars: Sergey Shakurov, Tatyana Kochemasova, Stanislav Stankevich, Georgiy Drozd

Votes: 132

Realistic film "Disintegration" concerns Chornobyl disaster of 1986. Main character is a journalist who accidentally discovered that an explosion at the atomic station occured. As the issue was concealed by Soviet authorities he is unsure what to do: get away from the city with the family or do nothing. I bet it's the only motion picture that shows the situation around the disaster as it actually was.

The title means "Oxygen starvation". Late "perestroyka". Soviet army was one the worst for human dignity places to be. The task of the army was to turn freethinkers into normal dumb Soviet people. An intelligent Ukrainian guy refuses to obey.

14. Propala hramota (1972)

79 min | Comedy, Fantasy

A Soviet musical-tragicomedy film by Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kiev. The movie is considered a pearl of Soviet and Ukrainian cinema. The film is based on the novella by Nikolay Gogol.

Director: Boris Ivchenko | Stars: Ivan Mykolaichuk, Lidiya Belozyorova, Fyodor Strigun, Zemfira Tsakhilova

Votes: 523

Cult Ukrainian surreal comedy "The Lost Letter", pure art. Based upon Nikolay Gogol's novela. About two Ukrainian peasant's dreaming they are Cossack ambassadors who has to carry the diplomatic letter to Russian tsaritza.

15. Arsenal (1929)

Not Rated | 70 min | Drama, War

Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of the World War I, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh, returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides ... See full summary »

Director: Aleksandr Dovzhenko | Stars: Semyon Svashenko, Georgi Khorkov, Amvrosi Buchma, Dmitri Erdman

Votes: 1,483

Early 1918. The independent Ukrainian People Republic is threatened by Russian bolsheviks troops coming to Kyiv while the Arsenal factory workers in the city uprise against Ukrainian authorities. Director Aleksandr Dovzhenko made the Soviet propaganda film about these workers killed by Ukrainian authorities and helped to install the ideological myth about "fallen bolshevik heroes"

16. Za dvoma zaytsiamy (1961)

77 min | Comedy, Musical

Madcap comedy set in early 20th century Kiev about a barber whose fondness for drink, gambling, and women lead to bankruptcy. He marries an ugly rich woman to solve his financial woes, but pines for a virtuous beauty who despises him.

Director: Viktor Ivanov | Stars: Oleg Borisov, Margarita Krinitsyna, Nikolay Yakovchenko, Anna Kushnirenko

Votes: 632

"Race for two hares". Cult Ukrainian comedy about poor dandy from late 19th - early 20th century Kyiv who wants to marry two girls at once: one poor and beautiful as the other is rich but ugly.

17. Nastroyshchik (2004)

154 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

A young piano tuner befriends two rich old-ladies, and plots, with the help of his girlfriend, to betray their trust and steal from them.

Director: Kira Muratova | Stars: Georgiy Deliev, Alla Demidova, Renata Litvinova, Nina Ruslanova

Votes: 803

Everybody lies and fools - the main idea of this nice film by the cult arthouse director Kira Muratova.

"Romashkin's Effect". Roger Corman meets David Lynch in Soviet Ukraine - the most comprehensive description. Contains many wild surreal scenes. Tells about a typical Soviet citizen Romashkin with moustache who drinks milk and has bright fantasies. Stop! Fantasies? Fantasies are forbidden in the USSR!

19. Chyornaya kuritsa, ili Podzemnye zhiteli (1981)

74 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

In the St. Petersburg board for Alyosha life has begun new, without habitual parental attention. Being homesick, the boy has created in the imagination the fantastic world of underground ... See full summary »

Director: Viktor Gres | Stars: Vitali Sidletsky, Larisa Kadochnikova, Aristarkh Livanov, Albert Filozov

Votes: 74

"Black hen, or Underworld habitants". Visually strange and atmospherical film. Based on the children tale.

"The guidebook". Several stories about underground Ukrainian capital. Teen beggars, sluts, drug addicts and various outcasts plus the archive footage of Kyiv and modern sights. Nice arthouse film.

21. In Spring (1929)

61 min | Documentary

In Spring is a masterpiece of Ukrainian cinema avant-garde, a non-fiction film made by Mikhail Kaufman, Dziga Vertov's brother and co-author, along the lines of the avant-gardist theory of ... See full summary »

Director: Mikhail Kaufman

Votes: 84

"In the Spring". Impressive silent documentary about spring in Kyiv. Directed by Mikhail Kaufman, Dziga Vertov's brother.

22. Jewish Luck (1925)

100 min | Comedy, Romance

Jewish Luck revolves around Menakhem Mendl (one of Sholem Aleichem's characters), a daydreaming entrepreneur who specializes in doomed strike-it-rich schemes. Despite Jewish oppression in ... See full summary »

Director: Alexis Granowsky | Stars: Solomon Mikhoels, Moisei Goldblat, Tamara Adelgeym, S. Epstein

Votes: 79

"Jewish happiness". The word expression "Jewish happiness" means someone's bitter misfortune. Though the movie is silent but one can laugh the hell out watching it. The plot is about two Jews from different Ukrainian towns who decide to make money from arranging Jewish marriages

"Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk". Yep, it's based on Franz Kafka's short story, folks.

Good criminal B-movie about Soviet Ukrainian militsia officer fighting against drug mafia. Soviet box office success in 1984.

25. Primorskiy bulvar (1988 TV Movie)

Comedy, Musical

The events of the movie take place in the city of Odessa. A guy named Sasha sees a beautiful girl on the street and, following her, inadvertently causes a car crash. The driver of the car ... See full summary »

Director: Aleksandr Polynnikov | Stars: Valentina Talyzina, Aleksandr Buyanov, Oleg Fedulov, Oksana Fomichyova

Votes: 61

"The Seaside Boulevard". Very interesting musical romantic comedy shot in Odessa.

26. Molitva za getmana Mazepu (2002)

152 min | Drama, History

A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa unfolds during an interesting era in the history of Eastern Europe when Russia, under Peter the Great, and Sweden, under King Charles XII, struggled for power; the Ukraine was the pawn in the middle.

Director: Yuri Ilyenko | Stars: Bogdan Stupka, Lyudmila Yefimenko, Nikita Dzhigurda, Vyacheslav Dovzhenko

Votes: 158

"The Prayer for hetman Mazepa". Misunderstood and underappreciated movie. Requires good awareness of Ukrainian history. Surreal and free biopic about Ukrainian hetman Ivan Mazepa, a very controversial person in Ukrainian history. One of the most hated in Russia, the influential politician and the hero in Ukraine. Perfect art directing and cinematography. Let Wiki help you.

27. Khaytarma (2013)

89 min | Drama, History, War

A story about a tragic date in the history of the Crimean Tatar nation - 18 of may 1944 -Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Main character of the film - a pilot, twice Hero of the ... See full summary »

Director: Akhtem Seitablaev | Stars: Dinara Avaz, Aleksey Gorbunov, Usnie Khalilova, Andrey Mostrenko

Votes: 527

28. Khlib (1929)

45 min | Drama

A demobilized Red Army soldier returns to his village. Inspired by the spirit of collectivism, he plows a field so that the kulak's portion now belongs to the community, and sows it with ... See full summary »

Director: Nikolai Shpikovsky | Stars: Fedir Hamalii, Dmytro Kapka, Luka Lyashenko, Sofia Smirnova

Votes: 32

30. Gámer (2011)

92 min | Drama

The boy's name is Alex, but in the world of gamers where he spends most of his time, he is known as Koss. The enormous amount of time he spends at the computer screen starts to pay off: in ... See full summary »

Director: Oleg Sentsov | Stars: Zhanna Biryuk, Alexander Fedotov, Vladislav Zhuk

Votes: 310

31. Life Span of the Object in Frame (2012)

111 min | Biography, Drama, History

... It all started with a sudden feeling that something has permanently changed around us and in our life in the past 15 or 20 years. We have never noticed how the changes were taking place... See full summary »

Director: Aleksandr Balagura | Stars: Aleksandr Babak, Aleksandr Balagura, Karl-Dietrich Bühler, Aleksandr Chekmenev

Votes: 8

32. Shamara (1994)


Industrial Soviet town in 1970s suffering from cholera epidemic. Zina Shamarina nicknamed Shamara is a rebel-spirited woman who lives in factory dormitory and is desperately in love with ... See full summary »

Director: Natalya Andreychenko | Stars: Irina Tsymbal, Denis Karasyov, Tatyana Shuran, Anzhelika Nevolina

Votes: 5

33. Crimea as It Was (2016)

126 min | Documentary

A story of the officers, soldiers and seamen who have not betrayed their oath of loyalty to the people of Ukraine during the takeover of Crimea. This is a film about a military honor, in the midst of undeclared war.

Director: Kostiantyn Kliatskin

Votes: 493

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