A while back on a day that wasn't the greatest of weather, I headed off to pay a visit to an old friend of mine. On my way there I got an e-mail from my producer and friend of Nash Holos. “Vasyl, why don't you just do the interview with him over Skype?” she wrote me. Somehow, I always feel that the interpersonal dynamic just isn't the same as a personal interview.
As the 211 bus barreled its way down the Remembrance Highway and past what is know as the Turcot Yards to Montrealers, and one of the oddest stretches of highway I know of in Canada, where the traffic traveling in the opposite direction is on your right hand side, though I do digress. Somehow I managed to adeptly answer her from my BlackBerry without falling into the lap of a very dour middle aged woman. “I'm already on my away. Besides, it's always good to see a familiar face now and then.” I was already running late. It's incredible how weird it is living out near the “Waste Island”, after living right down town of Ukraine's capital Kyiv for over ten years, where I could walk to just about anywhere I had to meet someone.
Having grown up in Lachine, what some marketing folks decided to call “The first suburb!” I always differentiated between the geographic territory of what is called the West Island, and the attitude that many who lived in that area exposed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I'm not quite sure who created the moniker “Waste Island”, but it definitely was an attitude. I had simply missed one bus connection, it wasn't rush hour, hence no express buses, thus I arrived at my destination one hour late.
The friend I was visiting was awarding winning Montreal documentary film-maker Yurij Luhovy, and always it was good to see him as he opened the door. The reason I was paying him a visit was for an interview about his DVD re-release of one of his first films he completed after completing Sir George Williams University, now Concordia, entitled Ukrainians in Quebec 1891-1945. To some degree over the last ten years, I knew I had somehow contributed to the making of his films buy sourcing him a graphic artists in Ukraine. Became clearly apparent when I saw the name I know of someone who works with Graphite Media in Ukraine. But this was not the case for the original of this film which was completed before I finished high school. It was not shot on video, or new digital technologies available to us now, but 16mm film. I was there to interview him for an extended Kultural Capsule, and to find out about the difficulties he encountered originally making that film so many years ago. The interview aired on February 27th and you can listen to it or download it from here.
However, what spurred me to write about Yuriy today, was an e-mail I received from him late last night that has nothing to do with his first film, but rather a film about the Holodomor. His film Okradena Zemlya [translated as Stolen Land in English] in Ukrainian was released in English as Genocide Revealed, a 75-minute Documentary on the 1932-33 Soviet Engineered Famine-Genocide. That e-mail was short an sweet and announced that the film had recently received an Award of Merit at the Indie Fest in La Jolla, California.
I together with many others, I'm sure, would like to congratulate Yurij Luhovy and his team on the garnering such an award. But if you have listened to my interview with him you will understand that Yuriy is a principled individual who has more than once gone to great lengths to reveal the stories, which many governments would like us to forget, but rather than pat him on the back, or shake his hand take the time and visit his website and either arrange for a screening of any of his films or even better still, buy a copy or two of any of his films. Keep one for your own personal library and give the second to one of your local schools, Universities, or organizations which is interested in the truth about some of the darker pages of humanity's history.