Story of the “cyborgs”: Ukraine’s Donetsk airport defenders to hit big screen

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The legendary Ukrainian “Cyborgs” of the Donetsk Airport. Only this time, they’re actors on a film set in the Kyiv region.

About 65% of the movie will be shot in the Kyiv Oblast, and 35% in Chernihiv. The tank battles, fights on the runway, will be reconstructed in almost exactly the same set there.

To give a sense of heightened realism, the heroic Ukrainian defenders will be portrayed by actors using paintball guns to imitate the sounds of real gun battles, using blank ammunition to imitate real shots. There are 6 lead actors in the film, and up to 16 in a shot. 

One of the six lead actors is Andriy Isayenko, an actor from the Kyiv Drama and Comedy Theatre. He’s the first to admit that the only battles he’s ever had were on the playground. He played a Cyborg with the call-sign “Subota:”

“He’s a no-nonsense soldier who knows his role, knows why he came and you’ll see more about him in the film!”

According to screenwriter Nataliya Vorozhbyt, it’s the story about one combat alert mission that took place over the course of several weeks in September 2014. The volunteer military battalion arrives at the Donetsk Airport for the first time after it had been held by Ukrainian forces for over 4 months of constant war.

“I was so scared! I can’t even describe it! I got in contact with the Cyborgs. Andriy Sharaskin was a personal consultant. I went with him to the conflict area. He introduced me to the fighters. He told me so much himself!”

Director Akhtem Seitablayev took on the challenge of putting Nataliya’s story on the big screen. After the first take of the film, he symbolically shattered a plate, which is a superstition standing for good luck. Afterward, all the crew members pick up pieces of the plate for luck.

The full-length film will be called simply “Cyborgs,” and it was one of the winners of a competition by the State Cinema Committee of Ukraine. The budget of the film is more than $1.5 mn, 50% of which has been provided by the State.

The Head of the State Cinema Committee of Ukraine Pylyp Illienko considers that first of all Ukrainians will be interested in the picture.

“For the most part, the target audience, I think, is Ukrainians. But I also think that it’s very important to show this story to the whole world. We’re working on making that happen!”

The Donetsk Airport “Cyborgs” had become legends over the 242 days during which they defended the Donetsk Aiport against attacks of Russian-separatist forces, against overwhelming forces and powerful equipment. They were dubbed “cyborgs” for their resilience by the Russian-separatist militants.

The theatrical release of the “Cyborgs” is symbolically planned for 6 December 2017, the third anniversary of the fall of the old Donetsk airport terminal.

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