The Tram #9 Was Going / Ishov tramvai deviatyi nomer








10 min


Stepan Koval


Stepan Koval


Oleksandr Nikolaienko


Ruslana Pysanka, Yurii Kovalenko, Inna Kapinos-Pavlyshyna, Yevhen Shakh

During rush hour, a fully-packed tram glides through the city. Small stories and significant dramas unfold amidst the rhythmic rocking of the carriage along its winding tracks. Inside, passengers share the vicissitudes of their own lives and the dramas televised on screen. They resolve everyday conflicts and discuss the latest news from newspapers and the world they see through the windows. The only exceptions to this clamor are the tram driver and a pickpocket, who silently surveys his surroundings, deftly pursuing his illicit business.

The plot, painfully familiar to the majority of urban residents in Ukrainian cities, and the form of its representation captivated the juries of numerous international film festivals, including the Berlin Film Festival, where the film received the Silver Bear for Best Short Film in 2003. The international success of this animation marked a crucial turning point for Ukrainian animators, transitioning from a period of stagnation to a cautious resurgence of the film industry.

Koval conceived the film in the late ’90s, during a challenging period for Ukrainian cinema, and he was awarded a Presidential Grant for its production. It took five years from the initial idea to its actualization. During this time, the director enriched the script with authentic dialogue recorded from public transport and developed the characters’ personas. The technique of plasticine animation was the perfect choice for this film, where characters either showcase their distinctive individual traits or merge into an amorphous collective. The polyphonic soundtrack, coupled with ironic visuals, made the film a vital representation of its era. Notably, this is one of the last films produced by the Ukranimafilm Studio that was shot on film, as the director was fortunate to secure Kodak film stock when Svema was unavailable. Almost a decade later, Koval established his animation studio, ‘Novatorfilm.’

“In all honesty, this work stands as a milestone in the history of the domestic animation industry and cinema as a whole.”

Yulia Kuznetsova