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Under The Grey Sky - Polish Film Commission

"Under The Grey Sky" by Mara Tamkovich premieres at Tribeca Festival 2024

“Under The Grey Sky” will have its world premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival in New York. Mara Tamkovich’s feature debut has been qualified for the International Narrative Competition section. The film is co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.

Belarus, 2020. Protests continue after the presidential elections rigged by Lukashenko. Anti-regime journalist Lena broadcasts the brutal pacification of a peaceful demonstration. A police drone tracks her, but Lena continues reporting and is detained. Ilya, her husband, does everything to save his wife. However, the authorities are determined to break them both. The film is inspired by the true story of Belarusian journalists – Igor Ilyash and Katsiaryna Andreyva, who were arrested in November 2020.

– “Under The Grey Sky” is an attempt to understand what Belarus and Belarusians are facing after the protests of 2020 – says Mara Tamkovich, the film’s director and screenwriter. – “We then experienced an incredible moment of elation and belief that change is possible. However, when the protests were suppressed, the country descended into violence and repression. The authoritarian state turned into a totalitarian system with long sentences for any type of resistance, denunciations, widespread fear and mass emigration. It is this change that the film’s characters painfully experience. They are trying to survive in this new reality. They are paying a price for their choices that they could not even imagine. In my characters, I look for a personal, human perspective on how to face such a world. How can an individual oppose the system?”

“Under The Grey Sky” – a film inspired by a true story

On November 15, 2020, Katsiaryna Andreyeva, a Belsat journalist, broadcast the protests in Minsk. Together with her operator, Darya Chultsova, she was spotted by a police drone and detained. Both were sentenced to 7 days of administrative detention, but before they could be released, criminal charges were brought against them. On February 18, 2021, the journalists were sentenced to 2 years in a penal colony for organizing riots. Darya was released in September 2022 after serving her full sentence. Katsiaryna, however, was charged with second offence, this time of high treason. The content of the charges were kept secret and she was found guilty in a secret trial. After the second sentence, she will spend a total of 8 years and 3 months in prison. Igor Ilyash, Katsiaryna’s husband, an independent journalist and commentator, was also arrested several times. The first time was just a few days after his wife was detained. He was then sentenced to 15 days in prison for his alleged participation in the protest. The second arrest, several months later, resulted in the initiation of criminal proceedings. Despite constant harassment by the services, Igor did not leave the country. He stays with Katsiaryna and helps her survive as much as possible.

Since 2020, over 136,000 Belarusians have experienced various types of political persecution, and almost 1,400 people are currently considered political prisoners. The actual number is much higher and increases every day.

“Under The Grey sky” – the creators of the film

Mara Tamkovich is a Polish-Belarusian director and screenwriter. She studied journalism at the University of Warsaw and film directing at Warsaw Film School, as well as  Wajda School. For almost ten years she worked as a journalist for independent Belarusian media broadcasting companies from Poland. As a filmmaker, Mara Tamkovich focuses on topics deeply connected to reality, often addressing important social issues. “Under The Grey Sky” is her feature debut.

Her short films have been appreciated at numerous festivals in Poland and abroad, winning awards at such prestigious events as the 58th IFF in Chicago, the 47th FPFF in Gdynia, the IFF in Mińsk, FEST – New Directors | New Films Festival, Linz ISFF and others. Mara Tamkovich is also a member of the Polish Filmmakers Association and the Belarusian Independent Film Academy.

The film’s producer is Katarzyna Ocioszyńska, president of Media Corporation – a company that has been operating on the media market for over 30 years. She bases her experience on the production of the most popular television programs, series, feature films and documentaries.

The Director of Photography is Krzysztof Trela, with whom Mara Tamkovich previously made her short films. Katarzyna Leśniak is responsible for editing, and Joanna Napieralska for sound. Set design – Katarzyna Pawelec, costumes – Anna Pietrzak, make-up – Natalia Schabowska and Anna Romaszko.

The production manager is Katarzyna Kępa-Pawlińska, head of production at Media Corporation, and the artistic supervision of the project on behalf of Media Corporation is provided by Sławomir Łonisk, program director of the company.

The main roles were played by Aliaksandra Vaitsekhovich (Lena) and Valentin Novopolskij (Ilya).

Co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, the film “Under the Grey Sky” will have its world premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival, which will take place in New York on June 5th to the 16th of this year. 

Tribeca Film Festival 2024 Screening Schedule: 

Fri June 07 – 9:00 PM (GMT-4)

Village East by Angelika

Mon June 10 – 6:00 PM (GMT-4)

AMC 19th St.East 6

Sat June 15 – 11:15 AM (GMT-4)

For tickets to the screenings pleas visit the official website.