August 16, 2013, Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian Animated Films on YouTube. Curb Your Enthusiasm.


Daryna Shevchenko of the Kyiv Post writes on Aug. 15, 2013 that Ukranimafilm Animation Studio has created a YouTube channel offering Ukrainian animated films. The online collection includes more than a hundred cartoons. She further quotes Ukranimafilm representative Nataliya Nahovitsyna as saying, "We still actively sell cartoons to TV channels, but it is just stupid not to use the most convenient platform for our audience (the Internet). Besides that, our cartoons are fantastic and we sincerely want to share them with people."


As is still very much the case today, not all Soviet Ukrainian cartoons were produced in the Ukrainian language. "The Soviet regime used this wildly popular genre as an effective tool of Russification of Ukrainian children. When an animated cartoon was produced in both Russian and Ukrainian, its Ukrainian-language copy was either "lost," or shelved, or given an extremely limited distribution. Instead the Russian copy was imposed on the Ukrainian viewers and their children. It takes a click of a mouse to discover that for the creators of the new Internet site, "Ukrainian" does not mean Ukrainian-language. More often than not it means a Russian-language film. According to Nahovitsyna, of the 383 cartoons available in the Ukranimafilm film collection, only 101 are Ukrainian-language productions.


Ukranimafilm studio is currently undertaking many projects: modernizing an animated story about Kotyhoroshko, a Ukrainian folk hero; producing a feature-length cartoon called Babai; and developing a new season of adventures Ukraine's famous cartoon Cossacks. "We already have state support for the first three episodes and are pretty sure that we can get more money from other sources for the rest of the season," Nahovitsyna says. After being screened in Ukraine's cinemas and on TV, the cartoons will be added to the YouTube collection. She goes on to say, "Now we are trying to make the channel more convenient, divide the cartoons into sections for children of different ages and translate the comments under videos into Ukrainian. They will be in as many languages as we can manage to translate them into," she explains.


Those who already anticipate the pleasures of viewing Ukrainian animation should curb their enthusiasm. The gleefully described YouTube channel, created by a Ukrainian institution, once again demonstrates the breath-taking disregard for Ukrainian viewers and their language which is increasingly discriminated against in today's Ukraine. The site is entirely in Russian. Of the thirty categories listed, only one has a Ukrainian title. As it announces 101 videos, unsuspecting viewers would think that they finally found what they had been looking for. Not quite so fast. A click on the first icon, "Animation cartoon for children Vesnianka," reveals it to be—you guessed it—in Russian. Even if most of the rest of the 101 are in Ukrainian, the new site quite obviously does not have a Ukrainian viewer in mind. It presents the rich and original body of animated films produced in Soviet and now post-Soviet Ukraine as just another variety of Russian film.


The Kyiv Post writer reveals her own bias in the very opening sentence of her blog, "Patriotic parents can breathe a sigh of relief, quit complaining about violent western cartoons and finally turn on a Ukrainian cartoon for their child." Would anybody consider American, French or Russian parents patriotic for expecting that their kids be able to watch films in their respective languages? Why should Ukrainians not be allowed to enjoy the blessings of their own culture to the same extent that other nations enjoy theirs without being called names?


View the channel here.


View Ukrainian language animated cartoons here.


Yuri Shevchuk


Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University© 2015. For more information please contact Yuri Shevchuk