Las Meninas (film)

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Las Meninas
Las Meninas Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ihor Podolchak
Dean Karr
Produced by Ihor Podolchak
Liliya Mlynarych
Ihor Dyurych
Tamara Podolchak
Written by Ihor Podolchak
Starring Mykola Veresen
Lyubov Tymoshevska
Hanna Yarovenko
Music by Alexander Shchetynsky
Cinematography Serhiy Mykhalchuk
Edited by Ihor Podolchak
Distributed by Ihor Podolchak, Ukraine
Insomnia World Sales
Release date
Running time
99 minutes
Country Ukraine
Language Ukrainian
Budget 850 000 $

Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 2008 Ukrainian film directed by Ihor Podolchak. Its title alludes to the well-known painting by Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas. Ihor Podolchak was the producer, screenwriter and director of this film. Las Meninas was produced by MF Films (a subdivision of Masoch Fund). It was the first Ukrainian film[1] to participate in the Tiger Awards Competition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. As of beginning of 2011, the film has participated in 27 international film festivals, including 10 competition programs. In 2011, it was included in Top 15 Best Ukrainian films of the 20 years’ Independence period.[2]


Still from Las Meninas

The film is about what the routine of everyday life can do to the human mind and psyche. It also reflects on the importance of the choices we make and how limited these choices are in the first place. The plot evolves around a family of four. They live in the suburbs, in a strange villa that appears, through a complex game of mirrors, to be more like a piece of installation art than a real house. The main character, who hardly appears on screen, is the son, a man in his thirties. Suffering from asthma and eczema since childhood, he uses his condition to manipulate his parents and his sister. Thus the existence of the terrorized family turns into an endless ritual of attempting to satisfy his whims, and always on the alert for yet another one of his “health crises”.

Las Meninas resembles the scattered pieces of a puzzle. It is up to the viewer to assemble them in order to form his very own picture – something that makes the film itself personal and unique.

Ihor Podolchak and Serhiy Mykhalchuk. Movie set. 2006


  • Mykola Veresen as Father, Second Father, Young Father
  • Lyubov Tymoshevska as Mother
  • Hanna Yarovenko as Daughter
  • Dmytro Chernyavsky as Son
  • Ilona Arsentyeva as Daughter (girl)
  • Stas Arsentyev as Son (boy)
  • Viktoriya Ulyanchenko as Young Mother
  • Valeriya Ulyanchenko as Young Mother


Idea for the script appeared in 2004, inspired by Doctor Janos Sanocky’s account of a case from his medical practice. The dialogue was co-written by the Lithuanian-Russian writer Andrey Levkin. Shooting of the film took place between September 15 and October 24, 2006 in Kyiv. Most of the film was shot through the mirrors,[3] which caused serious difficulties for the director of photography, since there was a permanent challenge for the crew to avoid getting into the shot. Editing, effects, color correction and rendering of the film took 14 months. All post-production work except for rendering was done by Ihor Podolchak himself. Las Meninas was the first feature film in Ukraine created entirely with the Digital intermediate process.[4] Most of the music in the film was written for cello and piano by composer Alexander Shchetynsky. Director and composer paid attention to the central role of music as a semantic counterpoint to the dialogue and visual imagery, so the sound level of the film can be viewed as an integral sound installation. American video clip director Dean Karr co-directed the music part of the film.

Releases and Reception[edit]

Las Meninas had a world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam[5] on January 25, 2008. During 2008–2011, the film participated in competition programs of the international film festivals in Brazil,[6] Croatia,[7] Russia, Poland,[8] Slovakia,[9] Spain, Romania, Italy, and Hungary;[10] in non-competition programs in Germany,[11] South Korea,[12] France,[13] Australia, Greece,[14] UK,[15] Colombia,[16] Estonia,[17] USA,[18] Sweden, and South Africa.[19] It was also included in the official selections of the Moscow International Film Festival[20] and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[21]

The critics noted the film’s “beautiful imagery” and praised the camerawork of Serhiy Mykhalchuk.[22] Ukrainian premiere of the film took place on June 9, 2009 at the Festival of the European Cinema in Kyiv.[23] Theatrical release in Ukraine was on October 5, 2009.[24] The film received mixed reviews in Ukraine. The critical opinions were polarized – from aversion and accusations of being “artificial” to apologetics and high appreciation of the film’s art quality[25][26][27] and its break with the tradition of the so-called “Ukrainian Soviet cinema”.

External links[edit]



External video
Episode#2 (in Ukrainian)(in English)
Episode#1 (in Ukrainian)(in English)
External images
Screenplay and Documentattion 2006
Photos from the movie set
by Dmytro Stoykov, 2006
Photos from the movie set
by Dean Karr, 2006
  1. ^ Константинова, К. Український «натюрморт» вперше в Роттердамі. «Дзеркало Тижня», № 3 (682) 26 січня — 1 лютого 2008. Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Ukrainian)
  2. ^ «Підсумки українського кінопроцесу:останній рік, 20-ліття, 100-річчя» Retrieved May 13, 2012 (in Ukrainian)
  3. ^ Художник Ігор Подольчак та його кіно. Retrieved November 4, 2009 (in Ukrainian)
  4. ^ AJA KONA 3 Enables Post Production for Las Meninas Retrieved November 3, 2009
  5. ^ «Tiger Awards Competition» — 37th Rotterdam International Film Festival Retrieved November 3, 2009
  6. ^ «New Filmmakers Competition» — 32nd Mostra Internacional De Cinema Sao Pãulo. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  7. ^ «Features Competition» — Split International Film Festival. Retrieved November 23, 2009
  8. ^ «International Competition» — 8th International Film Festival Era New Horizons, Wroclaw. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  9. ^ «Eastern Panorama Competition» — 16th Artfilm International Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  10. ^ «Competition» — Mediawave Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  11. ^ Goeast — 8th Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, Wiesbaden. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  12. ^ 9th Seoul International Film Festival
  13. ^ 36th La Rochelle International Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  14. ^ 14th Athens International Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  15. ^ 28th Cambridge Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  16. ^ XXV Festival De Cine De Bogotá. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  17. ^ Tallinn Black Nights IFF. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  18. ^ Santa Fe Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  19. ^ South Africa's Cape Winelands Film Festival, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011
  20. ^ 30th Moscow International Film Festival Retrieved November 3, 2009
  21. ^ 43rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  22. ^ First, Joshua . «Ihor Podol'chak: Las Meninas (2008)». Retrieved February 4, 2010
  23. ^ Сьогодні в Києві стартує Фестиваль європейського кіно. Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Ukrainian)
  24. ^ Зварич, О. Рамка для інцесту. [] «Левый берег», 03 октября 2009. Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Ukrainian)
  25. ^ «Менины». «Коммерсант Украина» «Weekend Украина», № 167(988) от 02.10. Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Russian)
  26. ^ Коцарев, О. Нарешті, більш ніж через рік після офіційної прем’єри «Телекритика», Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Ukrainian)
  27. ^ Підгора-Гвяздовський, Я. Художник і режисер Ігор Подольчак: «Свій новий фільм знімаю лише за власні гроші», «Дзеркало тижня», Retrieved November 3, 2009 (in Ukrainian)