Explore Dovzhenko Film Studio

The state-owned Dovzhenko Film Studio based in Kiev, Ukraine, recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, with congratulations on this achievement pouring in from many quarters, including the President of Ukraine Viktor Yuschenko, the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Speaker of Parliament Arseny Yatsenyuk. With a number of awards being attributed to films made at the Dovzhenko Film Studio, including 75 international awards, 65 soviet awards and one Academy award, the studio has served the nation of Ukraine well in the international arena of filmmaking.

The construction of the Dovzhenko Film Studio began in 1927 and at that time it was the largest studio in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. With only a few filming studios completed the following year, the studio opened for business, releasing three memorable films in the space of two years – Love’s Berries, Arsenal and Zvenigora, all silent films directed by Alexander Dovzhenko.

Visitors to the Dovzhenko Film Studio will note that throughout the studio are memorial plates in honor of the many film producers who have worked at the studios over the years. One of the studios has been turned into a museum dedicated to the history of filmmaking in Ukraine. The building has been named Shchorsovskyy in honor of the Alexander Dovzhenko documentary, Shchors, which was filmed there in 1939.

Alexander Petrovych Dovzhenko (1894-1956) was a Ukrainian writer, widely recognized for his abilities as a producer and director of films. Along with Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein, Dovzhenko is often cited as one of the most important Soviet filmmakers of the time. His films often focused on the lives and work of fellow Ukrainians. He was born in a village named Sosnytsia in an area which now forms part of the Chernihiv oblast in Ukraine. He was the seventh of fourteen children born to Petro Semenovych Dovzhenko and Odarka Ermolaivna Dovzhenko of Cossack ancestry. As was common at that time, his parents were uneducated, however, his semi-literate grandfather urged Dovzhenko to study and he went on to become a teacher at the age of 19.

Dovzhenko had a talent for illustrating books and drawing cartoons and this is what he did in his early working career, later going on to write a number of novels. But he is most remembered for his ability to produce and direct films. In his 20 year filmmaking career, Dovzhenko only personally directed seven films, while becoming a mentor to young Ukrainian filmmakers, including Larisa Shepitko and Sergei Parajanov. Following his death from a heart attack on 25 November 1956, Alexander Dovzhenko’s wife, Yulia Solntseva, continued his legacy by completing some of his unfinished projects and producing films of her own. The Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kiev were named in honor of his memorable achievements.