Ukraine Guernica - Art Not War

'Ukraine Guernica - Art Not War' is about artists waging a war on war in the context of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces. It is an anti-war film in the tradition of Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Jon and Yoko’s ‘War is Over’. Australian's George Gittoes and Hellen Rose travel to Ukraine in the first weeks of the war to collaborate with Ukrainian artists. They process the destruction they witness into art over 2022 and into 2023. The bombed and gutted House of Culture in Irpin Ukraine is brought back to life with exhibitions and performances as proof the artistic spirit cannot be destroyed. Locals who have lost their homes and loved ones in Irpin join with the artists forming a creative and optimistic community. An 8-year-old girl, Eva, who once learnt ballet in the House of Culture collects memories in a cardboard box to be able to show her children when explaining what she endured.
The journey includes the tragedy of a farmer shot while protecting his daughter, Punisher Palace where Russian soldiers raped and tortured, a child’s room hit by a missile, the Bridge of Death at Irpin where families were slaughtered in their cars and a meeting with one of the heroes of the siege of Mariupol, before his return to the frontline.
This film is filled with the optimism that humanity can end violent conflict and embrace peace through creativity.
The efforts of Gittoes and Rose are linked to their ongoing project in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where they run a creative centre and art school.

This film is filled with the optimism that humanity can end violent conflict and embrace peace through creativity.

  • George Gittoes
    No Bad Guys, Snow Monkey, Soundtrack to War
  • George Gittoes
  • Hellen Rose
    No Bad Guys, White Light,
  • Hellen Rose
    Key Cast
  • Hellen Rose
    Music Director/Composer
    No Bad Guys, Snow Monkey
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    War, Art
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 35 minutes 52 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 12, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    800,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Afghanistan, Ukraine
  • Language:
    English, Ukrainian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Melbourne International Film Festival
    August 12, 2023
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Sydney Underground Film Festival (Opening Film)
    September 7, 2023
    Sydney Premier
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Cutting Edge Productions
    Country: Australia
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - George Gittoes

2001 Receives Centenary Medal from the Australian Government for ‘service as an internationally renowned artist’
2008 Receives an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of New South Wales, Sydney
2013 The Bassel Shehade Award for Social Justice (awarded at Syracuse University, New York)
2014 Receives Award for 'Services to the Community' from the Premier of New South Wales
2015 Receives The Sydney Peace Prize
2018 Only two time recipient of the The Bassel Shehade Award for Social Justice (awarded at Syracuse University, New York)
2020 Awarded Honorary Membership to the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans Association.
1981 Refined Fire (Experimental Short, director). Explores the issue of nuclear war and uses special effects created in-camera to extend the possibilities of painting with light on film. Nominated for Best Experimental Film at the Australian Film Institute awards; wins silver medal at the Hiroshima Film Festival, Japan; finalist in the Baltimore Film festival; and wins best cinematographer and best special effects at the Armidale Film Festival, NSW.
1982 Tracks of the Rainbow (Documentary Short, director and cinematographer). Documents a group of six Aboriginal teenagers from southern urbanised areas of Australia as they follow the tracks of the Rainbow Serpent through the Northern Territory, from Uluru (Ayers Rock) to Arnhem Land and across the sea to Melville Island.
1985 Frontier Women (Documentary, director and producer). Examines the lives of two women living in outback Northern Territory. Broadcast on Channel 10 in Australia and in the United States.
Warriors and Lawmen (Documentary, director and producer). Shot in the Northern Territory; covers two criminal cases from 1933 and 1968. Examines the relationship between European and traditional Aboriginal laws. Broadcast on ABC Television and in the United States.
Unbroken Spirit (Documentary, director and producer). Examines the lives of stockmen working on one of the largest cattle stations in Australia. Broadcast by the Channel 7 network in Australia, BBC Television in the United Kingdom and in the United States.
1987 Bullets of the Poets (Documentary, director and producer). Filmed on location in Nicaragua. Focuses on six women who recount their struggles during the Sandinista Revolution and their reliance on writing poetry in order to cope.
Visions in the Making (Documentary, director and producer) for ABC Television. Features
six of Australia’s leading artists working in painting, photography, fashion design, holography, traditional Aboriginal art and cinematography. Explores the way their practice responds to and interacts with the Australian landscape.
2005 Soundtrack to War (Documentary, director and cinematographer). Filmed throughout 2003-2004, Gittoes bypassed the U.S. military's media lockdown on the war in Iraq to capture an authentic account of the human experience of the war. Gittoes interviewed American soldiers deployed in Iraq to create an account of the role of music in the contemporary battlefield. Premieres on ABC Television. Screens at the Sydney and Berlin film festivals followed by cinema releases in Australia, the United States and Europe. Screens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
2006 Rampage (Documentary, director). Miami-based subculture of a group of African- American soldiers, and an exploration of hiphop’s musical innovations Jury Finalist, Raindance Film Festival
2009 The Miscreants of Taliwood (Documentary, director and writer). Shot in terror central in Pakistan, where Gittoes decides to shoot a local Pashto telie film right under the nose of the Taliban’s anti-entertainment forces. A clash of fundamentalism and entertainmentand a surprising, terrifying journey, into the forbidden zones of Pakistan’s explosive North West Frontier. Screens at Museum of Modern Art, New York
2010 Moonlight, Starless Night and The Flood (Documentary series, director and producer). Shot on location in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Funded by an international aid agency to assist in the restoration of the Pashtun film industry by directing and producing three Pashtun-language drama features
2013 Love City, Jalalabad (Documentary, director and writer). A wild and funny documentary showing how the progressive youth of Afghanistan are rejecting the use of armed force and see film production as an alternative means of bringing peace and social change to their war-torn and occupied country. Winner 'Best Documentary' and 'Socially Relevent Film' awards at NYC's Winter Film Awards.
2015 Snow Monkey (Documentary, director and writer). Epic portrait of daily life in Jalalabad; Gittoes recruited gangs of war-damaged children to shoot local, Pashto-style films: vibrant, colorful and infused with the violence they experience on a daily basis.
2018 White Light (Feature Documentary) Screened Nationally on ABC TV Australia. Shot with the community of South Side Chicago - Englewood - May Block Chicago.USA focussing on gun violence in the area.
Created a sequel to White Light, No Bad Guys 2021, wonderful Best Australian Director at Melbourne International Documentary Festival, Best Documentary Bridge of Peace Film Festival, screened Event Cinema's George Street Sydney for the Sydney Underground Film Festival.
2022 Filmed invasion of Ukraine March - June 2022 created 'Victory' art exhibition in the bombed Central House of Culture Irpen, Filmed New Taliban Regime Afghanistan for current film Ukrainistan Artist War.
2023 No Bad Guys selected Best Documentary Film Critics Circle Australia.

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Director Statement

It is always important to push the boundaries of the Documentary medium but in this film, it was more important than ever as the film starts with Picasso’s 'Guernica', I was challenged to find the means to, ‘scream out’ a new anti-war message, for a time when we all know, war should be over.