A documentary film / art exhibition / book

Fragile Memory

 | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book
 | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book

Young filmmaker on a journey to the memories of his grandad, affected by Alzheimerʼs disease


 | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book


Synopsis | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book


A famous Soviet cinematographer Leonid Burlaka, who worked at Odessa Film Studio since the ’60s, suddenly gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 


At the same time Ihor, his grandson and emerging Ukrainian cinematographer, accidentally finds a hidden and heavily damaged part of grandpa’s photo archive from Soviet 1960’s. A young Ukrainian cinematographer Ihor who made his first documentary at the Maidan square meets a young Soviet cinematographer Leonid who starts establishing his career during the 'Khrushchev Thaw’.


This makes Ihor see that actually he knows almost nothing about the grandpa and his youth. He sets off to Warsaw, Moscow and Washington to dig into the archives of grandpa’s closest film school friends featured in the archive, searches almost forgotten grandpa's movies and rescues pictures, letters, records connected to Leonid and neglected by others.


Ihor dives into all controversiality of times of Leonid's youth: figuring out how notorious Soviet cinema machine was and how limited was the proposed concept of ‘freedom’. But Ihor is also puzzled with the current radical way of dealing with memories due to the active Politics of ‘Decommunisation’ and mass rejection of anything claimed as 'Soviet' in Ukraine.


However, time is running out: very soon Leonid’s memory will completely deteriorate and he’ll not remember Igor at all.


Background info | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book

Background info:

The story takes place from 1960s USSR and up to the times of modern Ukraine.


Leonid Burlaka is a Soviet and Ukrainian cinematographer, who worked at Odessa Film Studio since 1964 till 1999. His cinematography style inherits a lot from Rodchenko and Urusevsky, and represents second generation of soviet cinematography school. He shot over 30 features, some of them achieved a status of “cult film” in Post-Soviet countries. He collaborated with a famous soviet singer and actor Vladimir Vysotsky, a dissident poet Joseph Brodsky and many others. 


Ihor Ivanko, the author and the narrator, is a grandson of Leonid Burlaka and an emerging Ukrainian cinematographer and documentary filmmaker, member of Babylon’13 documentary collective. He worked both in fiction and documentary production, filmed during the Maidan protests and the Russian-Ukrainian war since 2014.


The Exhibition | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book

The Exhibition

Memory is the ability of the mind to absorb, store and reproduce experiences and sensations: people, places, situations, impressions, feelings, thoughts, actions. Memory defines the humans - individuals and societies. The opposite of memory is loss, oblivion, non-existence. The price is high, whereas the memory is fragile.

The exhibition provokes reflections on memory and our need of remembrance through photo and video documentation – these media give us the illusion that we can permanently capture our experiences, yet time may be as inexorable for photographs and films as it is for human brain.

The forgotten photo archive of Leonid Burlaka consist of black and white photographs dramatically affected by time depict everyday life of students of the Moscow Film School in the time of the Khrushchev's Thaw, photos from film sets, experiments with form.

Burlaka Films | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book

Burlaka Films

is a Kyiv-based production company recently founded by Ihor Ivanko, Alexandra Bratyshchenko and Mariia Ponomarova. Burlaka Films is focused on producing independent creative documentary films with a strong narrative and visual approach.  


Fragile Memory’, the first full-feature documentary film of the company, won the Pitch and Work in Progress at Industry section of Odesa OIFF and received a Docs Barcelona Pitch Prize at East Doc Forum.


Alexandra Bratyshchenko is a Ukrainian producer and festival manager. She studied at Karpenko-Karyi Kyiv National University of Theatre, Cinema, and Television, and since 2015 is an executive producer within BABYLON’13 documentary collective. Alexandra is the member of Ukrainian Film Academy.


Mariia Ponomarova is a Ukrainian film director, producer and artistic researcher based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Mariia studied film directing and screenwriting at Karpenko-Karyi Kyiv National University of Theatre, Cinema and Television and graduated from Master of Film artistic research program of Netherlands Film Academy. Her short films were screened in such international and national film festivals as Go Short ISFF, Molodist IFF, ArtDocFest, Netherlands Film Festival, CineDOC-Tbilisi, VIS Vienna Shorts, Regensburg Short Film Week and more.


 | FRAGILE MEMORY | A documentary film / art exhibition / book

2017 – 2019

participated in a workshops Young Europe, Ex Oriente Film, B2B Doc Workshops, EAVE on demand


Awarder at OIFF Film Industry Best Project in Development


Awarded at East Doc Platform

Awarded at OIFF Film Industry Special Prize

Production supported by UCF (Ukraine)


Premiere autumn 2020 Currently in production


Director and producer

  • Ihor Ivanko


  • Alexandra Bratyshchenko

  • Harmen Jalving

  • Peter Kerekes

Creative producer

  • Mariia Ponomarova