The project “Boosting local traditional industries with IT capacities” is implementing by TechUkraine in partnership with APPAU – Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine, International Association Culture&Creativity Association with the financial support of the German government through GIZ that aims to increase the competitiveness of traditional industries in strong collaboration with Ukrainian IT companies.
Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is an annual one-week event taking place in the last week of March in Kyiv. This spring week, Kyiv attracts world-recognized filmmakers and also young talented scriptwriters, directors, and producers from all over Europe, the USA, Asia, and Africa. After the major Kyiv part of the festival is finished, Docudays UA travels through the country. Annually the Traveling Docudays UA visits about 100 Ukrainian cities and small towns.
Being a part of the international network of human rights film festivals, Docudays collaborates with Ukrainian and international organizations and institutions to develop Ukrainian and global documentary cinema and promote Ukrainian culture. The team aims to set the Ukrainian film industry by integrating it into the global context.
18 years in a row, the team creates opportunities for every person in Ukraine to watch talented and relevant human rights documentary films from all over the world, support the development of the Ukrainian film industry, promote an active civic position, and respect human dignity.
The competition program consists of three sections:
- DOCU/WORLD is the international competition of feature- and medium-length documentaries longer than 30 minutes.
- DOCU/SHORT is the international competition of short documentaries which are up to 30 minutes long.
- DOCU/UKRAINE is the national competition. It includes documentaries of varying lengths, created in Ukraine or in co-production with Ukraine. Besides, films made by Ukrainian filmmakers and foreign production companies are welcome to apply.
- The festival also awards a special prize to the winner among the films nominated for the RIGHTS NOW! Award for creative documentaries that explore and analyze the contemporary world and make a significant contribution to the discussion about human dignity, freedom, and equality.
Last year after the spreading of the COVID-19 and when Ukraine went on lockdown, the team tried to save the festival via pivoting the offline event to the offline one with Docuspace.org. DOCUSPACE is the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival's online cinema that brings together a creative community of documentary filmmakers, human rights advocates, researchers, and everyone who appreciates documentary film. Via the online platform, you can watch documentaries, discuss them and implement qualitative change in your community's life. 4 in 1: learn, watch, discuss, act.
What was the challenge?
Docudays is a nonprofit organization (NGO), an educational platform that empowers documentalists and boosts movies with a high social impact among Ukrainians. It has an image as an educational, charity, and human rights project, free to watch and visit.
After MVP format and checking out all bags last year, in 2021 Docudays team had an aim to monetize the project and launch the paid access to the festival films via DocuSpace online cinema platform. It was a challenge, and significant concerns were about the economic viability of the audience according to the quarantine and tricky financial situation of Ukrainians.
Key priorities for the DOCUSPACE:
- Interesting and diverse content: documentaries, online events, 3D and VR art exhibition, interactive films where viewers receive the meta-information about the activity on the screen.
- Easy to Use portal - the site became a viewer-centric platform that helps choose the best personal options with features as content creating, saving, creating appointments, and sharing with friends.
- Inclusiveness - functional portal for all viewers, including people with disabilities, via enhancing and improving physical and digital experiences like big fonts, text description for all visuals, adaptive subtitles, and even some films have an additional track with audio description.
What is the solution?
An in-house team developed DOCUSPACE with the support of outsourcing consulting tech companies. The own experience is an asset, but sometimes it blocks you from inventing simple and straightforward solutions. That's why the partner's expertise and the out-of-the-box view were beneficial in every stage of development for the Docudays team.
Partners of implementation:
- Thanks to the House of Europe grant, Docudays attracted the documentary film experts of British Film & Campaign Ltd. that build and run the community organizing systems. They helped with audit, design, UIХ of the online cinema.
- The Inclusiveness consultants became the Ukrainian company IT inclusive that helps with web accessibility audits by experts with disabilities to create a welcoming and inclusive environment on the DOCUSPACE platform.
After the British audit, the team realized that DOCUSPACE could be the point of access to the documentary community for every person. Based on this insight, DocuSpace introduces the concept: learn, watch, discuss, act. As the key goal is to be as close to the user as we can keeping on the same page, Docudays integrated the chat of support and chat with the speakers during online events.
The Docudays team also improved the video player and represented the high-level resolution image and excellent sound quality they are proud of.
Before the launch
After the first launch in 2020, the team fixed the bugs (difficulties with playback on the old devices/operation systems, etc.) and updated the platform to become more mature. During the low season between festivals (August-December 2020), Docudays held the paid movie screenings with free online events to form a habit of paying for the films. To provide a reasonable and comfortable price for each audience was proposed different options: the festival pass for all movies and one-time tickets (30-50 UAH). Keeping in mind the social mission of the Docudays, the team saved discounts for students. It gave free access for doctors as a special appreciation of the hard work of medical staff within the COVID pandemic.
What are the final results?
Updated DOCUSPACE released and introduced as an online cinema where you will find yourself in a creative community of documentarians, human rights activists, researchers, cultural directors, and connoisseurs of documentary cinema. Via a platform, everybody will learn how documentary film can be a tool for meaningful change and join our projects.
During the 18th festival, 26 March - 4 April 2021, which was held online for the second year in a row, were sold over 15 000 tickets! A bit fewer number of viewers as in 2020 but more quality audience with high interaction with docuspace.org. It's an outstanding achievement according to the point that to watch a movie, a person had to register, pay and plan their time. The final results will be in the nearest future, after the questionnaire and feedback of the viewers.
It was important to find exactly what separated DOCUSPACE from other online cinemas. This is both the design and the content; this is the motivation of the viewer to watch the documentary itself. The team had a community that values the film festival, but it's a big gap between the film festival and the online platform. The goal was to find the inner meanings, concepts, and technical solutions that could combine and blur the line between them.
Inspiring by tremendous audience support and readiness to pay for the watching documentaries, the team accentuates building trust relations for a long sustainable project. And now it's the main result of Docudays team activity.
DOCUSPACE started as a startup, moving step by step, checking hypotheses, tech specialists' support, and achieving great success. The next challenge is to become the valuable and respectful project of everyday usage, regular visits of the audience that aim to educate and improve themselves.