A Ukranian-Canadian filmmaker wants to use her power of storytelling to help the war-torn country.
Olesya Shyvikova is hoping her new documentary will take her to the streets of Ukraine. Shyvikova says she’s tired of watching the war from the comfort of her home in Nova Scotia.
“We’re loud. We like to dance. We love to sing, and we love to eat and wear colourful clothes,” says Shyvikova as she fondly describes memories of her home country.
She explains using her camera helps her deal with the pain of seeing the war in Ukraine.
Shyvikova says her latest film, Threads of Humanity, will follow her crew as they explore the country amid Russia’s invasion. She’s the director and co-producer of the film.
“I know that for all of us, but for me, especially, going back to Ukraine will be a very cathartic experience,” she says.
“I will be really sharing my own feelings. And our crew — Canadians that have never been to Ukraine or the war zone — we’ll be sharing everything on the ground, so that people can really go to Ukraine with us.”
However, they need to secure funding before the project goes ahead. A Kickstarter has been launched with the goal of raising $118,600 to cover new gear for the war zone.
First, they will have to buy camera equipment to film the documentary, as Shyvikova explains they won’t be able to bring their own into the war-ravaged country. They plan to donate the gear at the end of the shoot, provided it remains in good condition. All crew will be paid below the industry rate.
“We’ll need Kevlar helmets. We’ll need bulletproof vests,” she says. “We’ll need a good car that we’ll rent to be able to travel around.”
Shyvikova says the documentary will focus on war crimes and humanity.
“This is our biggest idea — the war crimes,” she explains. “We have a team of lawyers and political analysts that will help us because I’m just a filmmaker. Before I was making films about women and about Canadian history, never war material.”
They’ve already filmed a teaser for the project featuring Canadians who have helped Ukrainians during the war, including Nova Scotia fisherman Lex Brukovskiy.
He travelled to the war-ravaged nation to provide aid and to take refugees to safety.
“Yes, you get scared for so long,” he says in the teaser. “After constant shelling for a few days, you get used to it, and then instead of being scared, you just get really, really angry.”
The teaser also features 92-year-old Canadian Grace Williams, who has been knitting blue and yellow teddy bears to raise money to help people impacted by the war in Ukraine.
She’s the inspiration for the film’s title.
Shyvikova says any support for the project is welcome from a hug to a donation. She says when the film crew returns from the war-torn country they’ll especially be in need of support from the community.
“When someone embarks on a big journey like this, it’s very difficult and it’s very lonely unless we have help,” she says. “Canadians are very good in terms of community. If you need help, you close your eyes, you open your eyes, and you have a community around you.”
The Kickstarter campaign launched at 5 a.m. Ukrainian time on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
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