The Maidan in Kyiv, Ukraine has captivated the world’s stage since November of 2013. What initially started as a desire for closer ties with Europe, the Maidan movement has grown into a demand against corrupt government and basic human rights. Join us as we discuss this movement and the current crisis in Ukraine with filmmakers and Ukrainian activists who have been using their cameras as weapons to tell the story of the people of Maidan. With excerpts of films by Lesya Kalynska/Ruslan Batytsky and Olha Onyshko, shorts by Vanessa Black, Babylon 13, and IndieLab.
The organizer of this event, Roxy Toporowych is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television. She is a filmmaker as well as the Program Director of the American Independence Film Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, a festival which works in collaboration with the US Embassy to bring American filmmakers and stories to a Ukrainian audience. Since 2007 Roxy has worked for the Sundance Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival as a screener for their festival programs as well as a video content producer. Her company, KinoRox Productions, was founded while she was directing her first documentary feature, Folk! about the underground world of Ukrainian folk dancing in New York City. The goal of KinoRox Productions is to engage and inspire it’s audience with unique, character driven stories, focusing on the Eastern European experience. She is currently editing a short documentary about her personal experience on the Maidan in December of 2013.
Andrij Dobriansky is an Executive Board Member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and a UN Representative for the Ukrainian World Congress. He is an arts industry and community advocacy professional with a background in Eastern European and Asian arts and culture. Andrij has been a spokesperson for the Ukrainian community during the current crisis, appearing on CNN, AL Jazeera, Fox News and other media outlets.
Yuri Shevchuk is a Lecturer, in the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University. He founded Columbia University’s Ukrainian Film Club (UFCCU) which is a forum for showcasing the best of Ukrainian cinema, both classic and new, to the Greater New York public and to film enthusiasts across the United States and Canada. Since its establishment in October 2004, the Club has become a unique international initiative connecting Ukrainian filmmakers with the world.
Lesya Kalynska is an award-winning filmmaker. Originally from Ukraine, she currently lives between Kyiv and NYC pursuing her career as the CEO of the production company Pomegranate Studios. Green card holder. Kalynska earned her MFA in directing and writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The short films Balloonist and The Debt, which she directed and produced respectively, have been screened internationally, including at the Sundance and Tribeca festivals, winning the Best Student Film Award at the Hope and Dreams IFF in NJ, as well as awards at Manheim IFF, Hampton IFF, and the Los Angeles Annual Showcase. Recently Lesya directed a TV documentary series, Level of Secrecy 18, produced the documentary Salt in The Air and co-produced short Ukrainian Lessons, which won the Fipresci Award in 2013. Currently Kalynska directing the documentary Land of the Lost Crusaders in its post-production stage and shooting a film about the Maidan, Heaven Admits No Slaves (with Ruslan Batytsky), of which she will show an excerpt.
Olha Onyshko is originally from Western Ukraine, from the region of Galicia. She began her career in Ukraine as a broadcast journalist. She worked for almost 10 years in communications, running public education campaigns to promote democracy and market reforms in Ukraine for several international development organizations. When working for the World Bank, she provided trainings and support for NGOs in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. In 2002, she moved to the United States, worked as a reporter for Voice of America and then in 2006 went back to school to obtain her Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Electronic Media. After producing and directing several short films, Olha completed the production of feature length documentary Three Stories of Galicia in 2010. She will show excerpts from this recent film on Sunday.
Vanessa Black is a filmmaker based in NYC. Using pop-culture language, she aims to tell stories that can reshape our world politically and socially. Her project #UkraineRising aims to tell the human stories and not just the breaking stories behind the crisis. The project encompasses a digital youtube series, content for a feature film, and a large format photo series. Her large format photography exhibit, “Defenders: Heroes of Maidan” is currently on display in SHNY Place Gallery in New York. Vanessa will share episodes of her digital series #UkraineRising and discuss her experience filming on Maidan post the February 18th sniper attacks.
A member of the IndieLab team and director/scriptwriter/cameraman for More than Nikolai (TRT 12:49), Oksana Shornik is a graduate from the Kherson State University. Oksana is a journalist and a freelance correspondent of the Tonis TV channel and the Segodnia newspaper. She has been working as a radio and TV journalist at Kherson’s lead National TV and Radio Company Skifia since 2005. She participated in international TV and radio festivals and in Kherson Document Documentary Film Festival. Oksana also worked in the genre of investigative journalism. She is a member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine since 2010.
IndieLab Kyiv – The Indie Lab initiative is a documentary film workshop for young Ukrainian filmmakers. The films were developed over a two month process of workshops taught by American and Ukrainian experts and are part of the U.S. Embassy’s American Independence Film Festival (AIFF) – the only film festival in Ukraine that celebrates the tradition of independent American and Ukrainian filmmaking. Indie Lab documentaries follow the stories of everyday people and explore their contributions to Ukriane’s resilient civil society and grassroots democratic tradition. We will be screening the film More than Nikolai (TRT 12:49) as part of our program.
Babylon ’13: In their instantaneous reaction to the events of November 30th, where peaceful protestors in favor of Ukraine joining the EU , were attacked and violently dispersed, a group of Ukrainian cinematographers joined together and formed Babylon ’13. They started to record the further course of civil protest, filming their reality in the light of a director’s creative perspective. They filmed the mood of the people and the events left off-screen by typical journalists reporting from the hotspots of Kyiv. Together, the group of filmmakers, directors, screenwriters and cinematographers united to tell the story of the Ukrainian Maidan and provide a better understanding of what is going on in their world. Our night will begin with the screening of several of Babylon ’13 works.