Saturday, March 31, 2007

On the brink of another (r)evolution

While the topic line may not seem to have anything to do with the music or entertainment industry it was the events of the Orange (R)evolution in 2004-2005 that eventually led me to meet an interesting film maker this past Thursday. During the heady events of the Orange (R)evolution my Kum (the father of my godson), was moved from the tent city on Khreschatyk, Kyiv's main street to run the camp that had sprung up by the Verkhovna Rada. There he met the son of the film maker I just met, actually I probably met the son as well during the times I would lead journalists up to that encampment, in order that fill the pages of their publications with the human side of the Orange (R)evolution.

Just a little over a year ago my Kum called me up. "I have some work for you. How do you feel about editing a film script?" Given I was freelancing at the time I came to an agreement with my Kum as a middle man. I received the five episodes, written out on a minute by minute technical screenplay, including the set, characters, how they are dressed, technical equipment needed to shoot the scene. After about working on this fascinating story on and off for about a week I was called and told the project was called off. I never got paid for the work, but at the time I just didn't care. I was fascinated by a story of five different epochs of pro-Ukrainian and early Ukrainian history which were episodes which could be either shown on TV as five different shows, or as a feature length film. All woven together by the events of the Orange (R)evolution, and the contemporary life of an archaeologist who has been piecing together the history of this part of the world, and the people who once inhabited the lands that now make up Ukraine.<

A couple of nights ago my Kum called me up once again, and asked me where I was. He joined me and a friend of mine Karolina for a drink, they had met at Karolina's birthday party earlier in the year so it wasn't a problem that he joined us at our table. Somehow, we had come full circle, but this time it wasn't for editing the script that I had to abandon last spring, but it was a request that I meet with the film maker and see if I could somehow now assist in completing this work which is now 80% complete. I agreed to meet him on Thursday afternoon.

As I walked from my apartment that morning down Liuteranska Street near the Presidential Administration I experienced an extremely high presence of police and Berkut, special tactical forces, along Liuteranska in three buses on the street itself and a number of other buses parked in the courtyards behind the houses that line the street. I felt like I had just returned to the time leading up to the Orange (R)evolution. I met the film maker and we introduced ourselves to one another. I told him a little about our company and my partner who could not make the meeting as he was in Western Ukraine taking care of some other business. He explained his situation, gave me a synopsis of each of the film's episodes and a promotional DVD of the film. I slipped the DVD into my laptop. As the film started to play, and as I watched I saw before my eyes the characters I had become familiar with when editing the script. I told him that my partner and I would take a look at it and see how would could help in finishing the film and how we would market it.

This morning as I walked down Liuteranska Street I saw Oleg Euvrolinerovych [he is a story in himself], Vladislav Kaskiv's of PORA's driver. I shook hands with him and in seconds Kaskiv came running out the door and jumped into the black Volkswagen van while trying to get his jacket on and shake my hand at the same time while at the same time saying, "Have to run to the Nasha Ukraina Party meeting, stay in touch!" Vlad and I have been friends since 1993. As the van pulled away he waved. His mother, pani Valya turned around to see who he had waved and then ran up to me gave me a big hug and invited me up to their flat for coffee. I couldn't refuse, pani Valya at times had been like a mother to me during my visits to Ukraine many years ago. Making me feel extremely comfortable, and while we were now neighbours I just never saw her very often.

While I sat on the couch and drank my coffee and basked in the warmth of a rich chocolate cake my mobile rang. It was the film maker, with a air of anxiousness in his voice."So what's your decision regarding my film?" I explained to him that I had only spoken to my partner and would only know today when he would return from L'viv and Ivano-Frankivsk. "I guess I will see you out on the barricades today at 17:00," he said. As I watched the Nasha Ukraina meeting live on Channel 5 and read the ticker at the bottom of the screen "20 buses of Party of Regions supporters have gathered by the river port" I thought to myself. /Yes, it's going to be a tense day! /Then I thought about what my room mate Myroslav Levytsky had said as I headed out of the apartment. "Stay out of the way of the cops! These guys are under different orders, and from different people!" He was right. We are possibly on the brink of a different (r)evolution.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about ways to find financing for this film, and so that Ukrainians can see their history on the screen. I history written by Ukrainians and not foreigners who have always meddled in our affairs and continue to do so to this day. I am certain that leading up to today's meeting on Maydan, cronies of Putin were on the line with their friends in the Party of Regions. They will never be able to be at peace with the fact that their Empire has crumbled and will no longer be as it once was.


  1. Oh my God, Vasyl, please, please do be careful! What a frightening situation. I hope much was learned by the PORA people in 2004 about how to deal with thugs ...

    The film you're working on sounds fantastic. I recently came across a book called Russka that does the usual historical appropriation job. I've only seen it at Costco which indicates that despite its NYT best seller status, it can't be that big a seller if Costco has been trying to dump it (twice). So if your film makes it, that would be "prosaic" justice. Good luck with it!

    And good luck with the (R)evolution. I personally think it is too bad the Ukrainian electorate (and many diaspora types) have been so impatient with Yushchenko and so quickly forgot the progress he made as PM before Kuchma sacked him. Yushchenko is essentially a dolphin in a pool of sharks ... kind of like putting a priest in charge of the mob and expecting him to turn thugs into saints overnight.

    OTOH, if it meant more worshippers at her altar, the lovely Evita, er, Yulia, would happily bankrupt the country. She actually even tried, before Yushchenko stopped her. Not that many seem to remember, much less care. I guess Ukrainian voters are as easily seduced by glamour, wealth and clever rhetoric as those in the west.

    Anyway, that's my view from afar, in the comfort and safety of my Canadian home. Things are always more complicated up close, and politics is a dirty, ugly game. Watch your back, my friend, and godspeed to your revolutionary friends. Prayers coming your way! Tremaysia...

  2. Regarding the (R)evolution, the tell tale decision will come today.

    This morning as I walked out of my front door I saw a traffic cop directing traffic at my corner. As a rule this only happens when President Yushchenko is on his way into the Presidential Administration using one of the motorcade entrances on Liuteranska.

    As the motorcade came up Kruhlouniversystetska shortly after 9:00 I caught a glimpse of the President and thought, "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes!" Last Thursday, he said he was considering of dissolving the Verkhovna Rada.