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Ukrainian producers unite for war-time documentaries
 02 May 2022
The first documentaries about the full-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine are planned to be released by seven Ukrainian producers who have united and invested one million hryvnias in their production. In this project, they see their share of the work that Ukrainians are doing for their own victory.

"We hope that we will be able to make a product that will be interesting to the world: people living in Europe, the United States, Australia," said one of the producers, Volodymyr Borodyansky. Now the producers are actively negotiating with partners and expect to have a movie ready in the middle of summer. Producers Alla Lipovetska (Mamas Film) and Volodymyr Borodyansky (Media Group Ukraine) told in an interview to Detector Media about the first projects, their budgets, distribution, as well as big plans for shooting films about the sinking of the ship Moscow, about Mariupol, the tragedy of Bucha and Irpin, etc. CEETV publishes some excerpts from the interview.


What is the coordination, who has what role? Are you counting on an assignment to your association of other producers?

Volodymyr Borodyansky: It is important for us that we can make all decisions quickly, without complicated bureaucratic procedures and long discussions. We do not expect anyone to join us, but if all members do not mind and vote for, why not? But only within 10 people. Because it is important for us to meet once a week and discuss topics.

The basic role for everyone is to create content. And then it all depends on the strengths of team members. For example, Dasha Fialko and Ihor Strochak, in addition to producing, are involved in distribution and negotiations with foreign partners. Alla communicates with foundations. We use all mechanisms to be able to attract additional funding and increase production capacity in addition to our own money (each of the seven producers has invested one million hryvnias).

What can be rented for seven million hryvnias?

Alla Lipovetska: A lot.

Volodymyr Borodyansky: The cost of the films we are currently producing does not exceed 40.000 to 50.000 dollars per episode (except for the film about propaganda and Nuclear Heritage). We are currently producing three films by Alla Lipovetska and Marina Kvasova, two films by me, one by Ihor Storchak, and three jointly developed films.

I produce two films. The first is about Mariupol; it is based on the diaries of local journalist Nadiia Sukhorukova. We've already done a few interviews with her, and the tape is in production. The second film is about propaganda. The main theme is the idea of responsibility of those who create propaganda; those who consume it; those who use it as an excuse; those who tolerate it. Or just keep quiet. We want to convey the idea that information warfare is a war not in quotes, it is not a figure of language. It is a weapon used to commit crimes. Propaganda kills. The propagandists are related to what was done in Bucha, Mariupol and Kramatorsk. We want to understand what tools are available today to prosecute customers and perpetrators of information attacks, and what still needs to be invented.

There is also Viktor Mirsky's film Nuclear Heritage about the Budapest Memorandum. Despite the promised security, we are in danger, we are dying. There is a constant debate about which weapons to give us and which not, the discussion about closing the sky, and the document signed 28 years ago is not valid. In the film, we talk about how it happened that nuclear weapons from the countries of the former Soviet Union remained only in Russia. Why the Western world went for it. The film is not about the past, but about the future: what does the precedent with the Budapest Memorandum mean for the world? Will there be trust in the world for any guarantees and promises? How militarized is the world?

Also in the filming is Storchak's film about how we managed to survive the first month and a half of the war, when no one expected it from Ukraine.

Alla Lipovetska: We are producing the film Station of Hope. This is the Berlin train station, which has become a large concentration of refugees from Ukraine. We are thinking of a trilogy about Warsaw and Lviv railway stations, but we started in Berlin. We were impressed by the volunteer movement in Germany. At the heart of the story are the three fates of our refugees: from Bucha, Mariupol and Kyiv. Some of them are very tragic. And also three destinies of Berlin volunteers. These are both famous Germans and our compatriots. We also have the Nine Lives project about animals at war. Because of their destinies, we talk about people. We have many stories - both sad and happy, about pets, zoos, shelters and more. Our third project is Bad Seegeberg. This is a small town in Germany, where before and during World War II there were massacres of Jews. And now the local synagogue has become a refuge for Ukrainian refugees. This is a story of redemption.

Volodymyr, you have a project about Mariupol in the works. Where do you get materials from the areas where the fighting continues? Do your employees work in such places?

Volodymyr Borodyansky: We have three main sources for video materials. First of all, this is an interview. If we talk about Mariupol, this is an interview with Nadezhda Sukhorukova. She has already left the city. We take the video from Borys Yakovenko, a cameraman who was in Mariupol with Nadezhda and shot a lot. The rest of the material - the chronic part - we take from open sources (clear the rights and agree on permission to use), from TV channels... Also at the request of the Ministry of Culture, we together with volunteers form a resource with photos and videos, where we collect all the evidence of Russia's war crimes. By the way, we are looking for volunteers to process photos and videos. This is necessary so that everyone who shoots about Ukraine can use this archive and see who owns the rights. Western journalists will be able to use these materials to tell about Ukraine. Lawyers will take evidence of Russia's crimes against Ukraine. The resource helps to defend Ukraine's interests in all areas: from cultural to legal.

Do you cooperate with those who film the fighting and life in the occupied territories?

Volodymyr Borodyansky: We have a chronicle that they provide. Some of our cameramen now serve in the army and also provide chronicles. But we do not send people to hot spots specifically.

Alla Lipovetska: There are directors on the front line who write to us, tell us what they shoot between fights, and provide links.

How do you see the distribution of your projects? Will they go abroad? Do you plan to show these films on Ukrainian channels, for example, as part of the same marathon?

Volodymyr Borodyansky: We hope that we will be able to make a product that is interesting to people in Europe, the United States and Australia. Therefore, when we choose topics, we first of all take into account that we can tell the exclusive about ourselves, what language we should use so that people from abroad can see and understand us. First of all, we make projects for foreign audiences. Of course, our people will also see this when Ukrainian channels and platforms buy our product and show it. Our task is to create a pool of films, sell them, earn money and invest them in the next. We have no goal to share the profits, but we want to increase our fund from seven million hryvnias to two hundred million, which will go to filming.

Which countries are most interested?

Alla Lipovetska: European, first of all Poland and Germany. These are the countries with which we have preliminary agreements. The difficulty is that we do not immediately see the material, and this is very difficult for operational production. For example, we filmed under fire at the zoo, but the material was not the best, although alive and honest. But we want to make a quality European documentary film and the picture is very important. By mid-summer, we will make 3-4 films. Some projects are more complex, they require more money, donors, possibly co-products.

What would you like to shoot and produce after the war? The boldest ideas.

Alla Lipovetska: I would like to shoot a blockbuster about “the Ghost of Kyiv”. The inferiority complex recedes, it is forgotten like a nightmare. We have an unploughed field of stories and ideas. All we have to do is win and recover.

Volodymyr Borodyansky: Every day there are events worth recording in literature, art and cinema. The sinking of the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet "Moscow" is a story that will definitely be screened. The defense of Kyiv will be screened. The tragedy of Bucha and Irpin will be screened. Mariupol, Azovstal, terrorist defense, volunteers. Many heroic and historical films await us. This war will provide a lot of material for reflection, reflection and creativity.
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