Tram #9

The #9 Tram Went By (Йшов трамвай дев’ятий номер) is a Ukrainian short animated film. It is notable for the fact that its voiceover is in neither Ukrainian nor Russian but in Surzhuk, a dialect somewhere in the middle of the two languages commonly spoken in various regions of Ukraine. The film, about 10 minutes long, was released in 2002.

The series is dedicated to the #9 tram, and tells the stories of everyday people and their daily lives and problems. More specifically, it takes place during rush hour on the Lviv public transit system. The conceit of the tram allows the show’s creators to show an interesting cross-section of everyday Ukrainian life.

The show has been praised by adult reviewers as evoking the popular Soviet satirists Ilf and Petrov—the cartoon is more ironic and witty than your average children’s show. It won many awards at film festivals in 2002, including grand prizes from KROK (a Russian-Ukrainian animated film festival) and the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film. It was also lauded at festivals in Germany and Estonia, and has very high audience ratings on KinoPoisk and IMDB.

The show was produced by preeminent animation studio Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм), which has been responsible for most of Ukraine’s animated hits since the studio’s founding in 1959. The show was the debut for the creator, Stepan Koval (Степан Коваль), who went on to create several other lauded animated films. A few of the voice actors in the film have also had celebrated careers: Ruslana Pysanka (Руслана Писанка) has a very long filmography, including the well-known Ukrainian film Black Council (Чорна рада). Another actor, Inna Kapinos-Pavlyshyna (Інна Капінос), is a Distinguished Artist of Ukraine known for both her stage and film work.


Director: Stepan Koval (Степан Коваль)
Voice actors: Evgen Shakh (Євген Шах), Ruslana Pysanka (Руслана Писанка), Inna Kapinos-Pavlyshyna (Інна Капінос-Павлишина), Yuriy Kovalenko (Юрій Коваленко)
Production company: Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм)


The full short film:

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.