Meet Ukraїner, “project that tells the world about the least discovered country in Europe”

Ukrainer. The Movie

 

Culture, History, Ukraine

Close your eyes and open your Imagination to Ukraine. What can you visualize? The fragments of the newscasts? The war? Or comedian-turned-president Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking with the US President, Donald Trump? Did you know that the area of Ukraine is 603,628 square kilometers? With a population of approximately 42 million people. The southeast coast of Ukraine is washed by two seas. This country is also blessed with mountains, steppe, forest, and even a tiny desert.

“Ukraine is the least discovered country in continental Europe,” states the creative team of the Ukraїner project. With such through in mind the team started to fix it and came up with the movie and the book about undiscovered Ukraine.

Watch the trailer of the documentary:

Ukraїner is a media initiative launched in 2016. Without any financial support, the group of enthusiasts started to explore different corners of the country from the Black Sea to Chornobyl, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Donbas,

“During the last tens of years, Ukrainians actively emigrated or moved to big cities, gradually leaving their towns and villages even not learning anything about them. The history of small settlements was not covered in the media but was left in the family archives and with the passage of time were erased from memory.” 

The Ukraїner’s team explained their motivation as the desire to rethink the historical features and cultural codes of Ukrainian lands, the country’s ethnographic, geographical, anthropological interests. By that, the documentalists hoped to help to formulate the value of Ukraine first of all to Ukrainians. However, it is also important to show all Ukraine’s diversity to foreigners.

During the two and a half years,  the Ukraїner’s team was visiting five to six historical regions of Ukraine per year to explore the ordinary life of people who created something unique in big and remoted places of Ukraine. A number of volunteers, among whom there were authors, editors, transcriptors, directors, video editors, translators, researchers, and diplomats-communicators joined the project.

The whole intentions of the team resulted in two creative products. Both the movie Ukrainer and the book called Ukrainian Insider have versions in English.

On 1 November 2019, the movie premiere was launched simultaneously in 60 cities and 7 countries of the world and now being distributed for free on the Internet.

Why watch it? Well, first of all, because it is quite amazing. You see, maybe for the first time in your life, the colorful landscapes from different corners of Ukraine, including the exclusion zone around Chornobyl, unusual crafts, and the charm of Kyiv skyscrapers.

“The film consists of six stories woven into a single canvas. They reflect an ordinary day of Ukraine created by unusual Ukrainians. The characters in the film are not related, their worlds are different. It is these differences that unite the country,” the documentalists describe.

Another special character of the work is music. The background is created by DakhaBrakha, a famous Ukrainian ethno-band. Their music naturally covers the ordinary days of the extraordinary people.

Read also: Explosion of new Ukrainian music after introduction of protectionist language quotas

The characters

Alyoshkyns family. Bukatynka could have become another dying village. However, about 40 years ago Alyoshkyns couple came to live here. Step by step they started to turn the village into a museum.

Volodymyr Danyliak. Motobol is a unique sport that is left only in a few countries in the world. Volodymyr Danyliak from Kamianets-Podilskyi develops the sports in his city for about 50 years while earning a living as a city bus driver.

Viktor Sakara works as a lighthouse keeper for about 20 years. Every day the man has to cross the channel as there is no land connection between the village and the lighthouse.

Oleksandr Syrota was born in Pripyat. After the Chornobyl tragedy, he was evacuated as many others, however, the man came back to it after some time. Now he creates the documentary projects and conducts author tours in the exclusion zone.

Kishchuks family produces sheep wool loungers, which in Ukraine have long been used in rituals and everyday life as blankets. The couple shares their knowledge on that with their children.

Anatoliy Skumin is one of a few Ukrainians who is still involved in  apiculture keeping and renewing this old wild bee honey mining craft.

The book

“Ukrainer. Ukrainian Insider” is the print edition of the digital media project Ukrainer based on 2016–2018 expedition of the team throughout all the historic regions of Ukraine.

“Ukraїner started from the attempts to explain to foreigners in dozens of countries I visited what Ukraine is,” Bohdan Lohvynenko, the initiator of the project says.

“I was telling  about my country, or at least the part of the world where it is located, to children in remote islands of the Indonesian archipelago, to Bedouins in the Arabian desert, to  elderly man and women from the Polish Pensioners Club, to the members of tourist clubs and visitors of foreign festivals. During the years of travels, lectures, and conversations about Ukraine, I lacked an emotion the most. Something astounding and memorable which would be associated with my country. After traveling around  the world and returning home, I wanted to find the image of the modern country, this short and very eloquent answer to the question: ‘Where are you from?’.”

Lohvynenko describes the book as the one about randomness and regularities which were happening to the team during the expedition.

Now, it’s your turn to explore another Ukraine, watch the movie:


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Edited by: Robert Daley, Yuri Zoria

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