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UNICEF gives special award at Odessa International Film Festival

© 2012 / Odessa Film Festival
UNICEF Special Award at Odessa International Film Festival

Odessa, July 16 -17, 2012 – In Ukraine UNICEF gave a Special Award to film “Backstreet Champions” by Akhtem Seytablaev that tells about children and people living on the streets. This movie has been taken part in the competition of Odessa International Film Festival for the best film. It is based on a real story showing how football can help to change for better life of people in difficult life circumstances and vulnerable children.

Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, presented our prize during the press-conference to the production team of film “Backstreet Champions” and thanked for drawing public’s attention to important social issues through visual art. This award was nominated for the first time in the 15th year history of UNICEF presence in Ukraine.

“I believe that this new Ukrainian film made by Aktem Seytablayev "Backstreet champions" will raise awareness on the most striking social issues, especially related to vulnerable children. It provokes our thoughts, inspires our ideas and leads us to action.  Only by joining efforts we can make the difference for children!" stated Yukie Mokuo.

Akhtem Seytablaev , film Director, said “ I would like to emphasize that we did a film not about the football game itself, but football as a way to tell a story of people who found the inner power to overcome the difficulties in their lives and help others. It is great if you are a good sportsman, but first of all – you should be a good person. And this is much more important than to have good skills to play football. Football – is not the goal, but just an instrument.”

© 2012 / The Way Home
UNICEF head in Ukraine with children at The Way Home Foundation

During the press conference, Yukie Mokuo confessed that she cried during the film because she personally knows the children living on the streets and their difficult lives. However, many children manage to overcome all the difficulties with the help of caring people. Football is an important element in children’s education and rehabilitation, which helps to change their lives for better.

In addition, UNICEF initiated an informal meeting of the film production team and famous actor Alexey Gorbunov who played the main character in film “Backstreet champions” with the children of the Way Home Charity Foundation. Famous movie star Alexey Gorbunov, film director Akhmet Seytablaev and producer Marina Lopatenok met with children right after the film screening at Way Home. Children became the first viewers of this film even before the world premier planned for the next day. Thus, film creators were very pleased to receive positive feedback especially from children who play football by themselves.

During the meeting the actor emphasized that children is the future and the adults do not understand it. But the future is always defined by children – good and bad, neglected and cared ones. “And our future is in children’s hands. I’m absolutely sure in it,"- said the actor.
And Akhtem Seytablayev noted “If at least one child who has watched our film starts to believe in himself? I’d consider the film’s mission is completed”.
While in Odessa, UNICEF team has also met the officials to advocate for better protection of vulnerable children as well as implementing child friendly city initiative in Odessa city.

Photo report is available here:

About UNICEF: UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protecting the rights and interests of children. The Fund operates in over 190 countries to protect and support children from an early age through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF mission in Ukraine commenced in 1997. More info at: Join us on Facebook: and twitter: @unicef_ua



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