Ukrainian mothers given a voice with online documentary “War Mothers”

A screengrab from the documentary 


“If a husband loses his wife, he will be called a widower. If a wife loses her husband, she will be called a widow. But what do you call a mother who has lost her child? There is no such name for them in the world. It is the most terrible thing in the world.” – Svetlana Serotin

In 2016, Australian filmmaker Stefan Bugryn traveled to the warzones and frontlines of Ukraine to tell a story he felt was not being heard a home – the story of how war can affect the lives of mothers, and alter the state of motherhood.

Read more: How I left everything and went to Donbas to make the film “War mothers”

Stefan was inspired by a story on Euromaidan Press, where he came across a post with the caption “War Mothers,”  it told the story of a woman called Svitlana, whose son sadly passed away in the ATO zone in early 2016. The story stayed with Stefan, a grandson of Ukrainian immigrants until he decided he wanted to tell more stories of inspiring mothers. This led to the creation of the documentary, War Mothers.

During filming, Stefan was taken in by the war volunteers of Zaporizhzhia, and lived in the Prival, one of Ukraine’s biggest volunteer centers. He went through the ATO zone and frontlines to follow 3 women – Halyna, Yuliya, and Svitlana – who all had different ways in which the war had altered their realities.

Volunteer mothers from Prival volunteer center in Zaporizhia

Volunteer mothers from Prival volunteer center in Zaporizhia

After 3 months, Stefan came back to Australia, and finished the first installment of the project, and premiered the film to an audience of over 250+ people in Melbourne. Further screenings were held in Sydney, Adelaide, Buxton, Zaporizhzhia, and Lviv.


“We made this film to pay tribute to the mothers of war, who are often the ones who carry loss and suffering long after everyone has moved on. We wanted to give them a voice, so they know the world has not forgotten them. As Yulia says in the film – it’s impossible to be indifferent to someone else’s grief – and we know this to be true. Thank you to those who help us bring these stories to the world,” – Stefan Bugryn

The film installment is available online now, with the second and third part being released next week. All updates being posted on the official Facebook page.

Stefan Bugryn – Filmmaker / Director
Stefan (a)


Stefan with "war mothers" Svitlana Serotin and Halyna Honcharenko

Stefan with “war mothers” Svitlana Serotin and Halyna Honcharenko

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  1. Avatar Buddy Rugger says:

    These are the stories that should be shown in the West. “Mothers of Veterans Lost to the Russians” would be a good title, and eye catching enough on youtube to garner views.
    It is true that the majority of American (and Western, in general) population will tune out if they see “Ukraine” pop up on a title for a story.
    However, people here tend to worship the military, and will keep listening to an Australian speak.
    Don’t mention Ukraine in the title, but post this up to youtube, and offer it to bloggers that you know can be trusted.
    This story, and the sacrifices of the mothers, and their sons, should not be allowed to just fade into the dustbin of cynical Western indifference. There are people here that would care, if their own propagandized news wasn’t telling them that Ukraine is “THE Ukraine”, and that the “Evil Mooslim Obummer/Krooked Hillary” are responsible for the Maidan.
    If one can circumvent the razorwire of lies surrounding their minds, then the truth can get through, piece by piece.
    Right now, and since ~2010, russkis have had their hooks in the “alt-right” here, which started off as well meaning dissenters (who often had good arguments regarding U.S. domestic abuses since GWB).
    If some of the disenfranchised here were to realize just how much they have been lied to, then American policy regarding Ukraine would likely change. Right now, there are few “adults in the room”, and the (misinformed) public is part of what allows such inaction.
    This is powerful and poignant, thank you.