Mariia Ponomarova started pre-production work on her documentary Nice Ladies — about a Ukrainian cheerleading team for women over 50— in 2019. She had sketched out the arc of the film, found production partners and was set to start shooting at the team's home base of Kharkiv in March 2022. Then, Russia launched a full-scale invasion, and Ponomarova wound up making a very different film. The first half follows the team as they train for the European Cheerleading Championships, perform on Ukraine's Got Talent and celebrate birthdays together. The second half focuses on Sveta Stopina, as she adjusts to life in Amsterdam and leans on her long-distance teammates to help. Ponomarova, who has lived in Amsterdam since 2014, helped Stopina and her family get to the Netherlands. Nice Ladies made its international premiere at Hot Docs on May 1.

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