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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ukrainian Protests Captured On Film

Igor Savychenko may not be a filmmaker you’ve heard of. But if you go online, you can find clips of some of the work he’s produced through Babylon 13, a group of Ukrainian filmmakers documenting the deadly anti-government protests in Ukraine.

One short film called “In Hell” (below) shows protesters throwing tires on huge bonfires that raged in Kiev last week. Another, called “Shame” (above), shows the faces of Ukrainian police in full riot gear. As the camera confronts them one by one, they look down in shame.

“When we saw TV news about Egypt two years ago, that was something far, far from you, and for now we have it exactly in the middle of Ukraine,” Savychenko told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “The same violence, the same people who are trying to do society better than it was before.”

The conflict in Ukraine is far from over, he says.

“We are not in the third act even,” Savychenko said. “And the third act is going to be some type of political decision and then — it’s unpredictable for the moment. Please look at Cairo, look at Syria, look at Thailand. They still protest. Because in general, Ukrainian system is corrupted. Even if you buy the car or buy the bread, you know, you understand that you pay some more for corruption.”

Video: Babylon 13, 'In Hell'

Guest

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

This is HERE AND NOW from NPR and WBUR Boston. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

Igor Savychenko may not be a filmmaker you've heard of, but his work is getting a lot of attention online. He's one of many Ukrainian filmmakers who are documenting the revolution there. One of the film shows protesters throwing tires on huge bonfires in Kiev.

Another one of the films, called "Shame," shows the faces of Ukrainian police in riot gear. But as the camera confronts them one by one, they look down in shame. Igor Savychenko joins us now. And do you think you're having an effect?

IGOR SAVYCHENKO: I think so. Yes. It shows how it happened from inside because then you see the same, almost the same situations. But from TV in Ukraine, you see something like highlights. You cannot see deep when you see just highlights and a few pictures of protesters, and after that you see opposition leader and after that you see somebody from government who comments this. So it's usual TV, let's say, news. In our case what we are trying to show, we are trying to show the mood of people. And people see themselves in this.

HOBSON: There is one film that is of protesters watching another film. There's a film about the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square. It's called "The Square," and it was played in Kiev and the protesters are watching it. You've got a film of that. This is very meta, certainly, but tell us about that one.

SAVYCHENKO: They used a bicycle as a generator for electricity and they show it. You know, it's very touchy(ph) for more than Ukrainian society because when we saw TV news about Egypt two years ago, that was something like, you know, something far, far from you. And for now we have it exactly in the middle of Ukraine.

HOBSON: And do you see it as the same thing at this point?

SAVYCHENKO: Very similar. It's the same violence, the same people who are trying to do the society better than it was before.

HOBSON: Do you see yourself as an important part of the revolution at this point, the film work that you're doing as contributing to potential changes ahead in Ukraine?

SAVYCHENKO: Yes and no. You know, the station in the world is changing very, very quick. So what we want to show, we want to show the emotion of people. Because when you read some kind of analytic about some political actions, like now in Ukraine, like it was, I don't know, in Syria, like in - for the moment in Bangkok and all around the world, when you read just analytic, it's, you know, something like letters and numbers and no emotion. We would like to show emotion.

HOBSON: Well, if the situation in Ukraine is one big movie right now, how does it end?

SAVYCHENKO: For the moment, we are not into short act even. And the short act, it's going to be some kind of political decision. And then it's going to be - it's unpredictable for the moment. Just look at Cairo. Look at Syria. Look at Thailand. They're still protest. Because in general Ukrainian system is corrupted. Even if you buy the car or buy, I don't know, bread, you understand that you pay some money more for corruption. It's a very bad situation.

HOBSON: Igor Savychenko is the head of the Ukrainian Motion Picture Association and one of the producers involved in Babylon 13. That's a project that's posting short movies online about the protests in Ukraine. Igor, thanks for speaking with us.

SAVYCHENKO: Thank you.

HOBSON: You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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