Screening in Ottawa

On February 10, the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Club of Ottawa, organized a preview screening of Three Stories of Galicia in Ottawa, Canada. The event had a great turnout and although we were not able to be there ourselves we were happy to learn that the audience had very positive reactions towards the film.

The organizer of the event, Mrs Vicki Karpiak – whom we thank for putting this together – reported to us after the screening: “The documentary was well received and we even had two 92 year olds from Halychyna that talked all evening about their experiences. The general opinion was that it was an excellent documentary and there even was a suggestion that another film be done solely on the 4 resistance fighters that were the last to leave the prison. Their story brought tears to people’s eyes, whereas the Polish Priest and his administrator caused them to laugh out loud.”

Mrs Karpiak kindly shared with us impressions from the audience after the screening, and we in turn, wanted to share those with you…
We very much appreciated what was said about the film especially because what people thought to be the most important aspect of the film reflects our original intention while making the film.

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Apparently we WONK

The Winter issue of the American magazine recently published an article about us as part of their new “Wonk Campaign.”

When we were first approached by the writer/editor of the magazine with this interview request, we have to admit that we had to do some research.  We’re wonks? That sounds cool, but exactly does it mean?

We found out that first of all, if you try spelling KNOW backwards, you get WONK. As simple as that. So if you know something backward and forward, you probably qualify to be a wonk… and let’s face it, a wonk campaign sounds sexier than a nerd campaign!

We also learned that the term “wonk” became part of the Washingtonian vocabulary to describe people who are knowledgeable about an issue and passionate for creating change.  We were flattered.

It was also very nice to learn that this issue of the American Magazine was sent to about 100,000 people who have connections to AU (alumni, donors, students, etc).

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Screening at the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival

On October 26, Three Stories of Galicia screened at the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival in Ukraine.

We could not be there ourselves but our associate producer Valentina Podgornaya attended the screening on our behalf and spoke with some people afterwards.

Here is what the viewers had to say!

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Wish we were there…

On October 6, 2010, we had a very successful screening in Lviv, Ukraine, as part of the Ecumenical Social Week, a great initiative that takes place every year during the month of October and that is organized by the Ukrainian Catholic University.  It brings together people of different faiths, backgrounds and political views to discuss issues of philanthropy and trust building in Ukraine.
The screening took place in the best movie theater in town: the KinoPalace that was generously donated to us for that night. The film was screened in parallel in two adjacent theaters: the Ukrainian-speaking audience was able to view the film in the larger theater that seats 280 people while the international guests could watch the English version of the film in a smaller room.

Even though it broke our hearts, we were not able to be in Lviv at that time because it coincided with the screenings in Hamburg.

Our friend and cinematographer Petro Didula who was present at the screening reported back on the success of the event in the video and the article below.

After the screening ended, I was collecting people’s comments about the film.  My colleague Oksana, a journalist, was asking people if they thought the events described in the film could be repeated today.  Almost every young person answered “yes”.  This answer is the best proof that the film was able to address the core of the problem. Because in today’s reality, in our hearts, in the way we treat our neighbors, our enemies and sometimes even our loved ones, the remnants of the War are still lurking under the surface of every day life.

Why? Is it possible to end this war? The film will not bring all the answers.  A single film cannot be the cure. But it can be a little speck, a little breeze that keeps the sail standing on a boat that was ready to sink.
What I understood after watching the film on a big screen for the first time is that the filmmakers found the right angle to address the complicated history of this region. The way the history is told touched the hearts of young people. It left them with eyes wide open and arms reaching to the other side.

The film was shown in the context of the Ecumenical Social Week. Maybe that’s an additional reason why it was received so well.  The purpose of the Social Week and the purpose of the film are one: to find ways that can help end the war among religions, political parties, social classes and nations. Every year, for a full week in October, the most important politicians, ambassadors, religious leaders and academics from Ukraine and abroad, gather in Lviv to discuss subjects of philanthropy trust building and ecumenism.

The organizer of this week, Antoine Arjakovky who is Russian of French decent, made sure to put Three Stories of Galicia at the forefront of the events of the Social Ecumenical Week. The film not only enriched the colorful spectrum of this week but also provided the appropriate background for all the other discussions and events.
It made the participants of the week think about an issue that is not being addressed by any of the non-profits or social service providers but at the same time is destroying society from within: the pain from the old interethnic conflicts.

Після Фільму я пробував записати коментрі від різних людей про фільм. Зі мною працювала журналіст – Оксана. Вона запитувала людей, чи на їх думку можливо було, щоб сьогодні події, про які йдеться у фільмі, повторилися. Майже всі молоді люди відповідали ствердно.
Це питання і відповіді на нього  – найкраще свідчення того, що фільм потрапив у саме що називається яблучко. Війна триває.
В наших умах, в наших серцях, в наших ставленнях до сусідів, суперників а навіть евентуальних партнерів.Фільм дозволяє зауважити це вишукане плетиво навколо шиї  цілого суспільства. З неймовірною легкістю із позірного миру громада  пускається у танець смерті. Чому? Чи можливе завершення цієї війни.

Фільм не є панацеєю. Його замало, щоб нею бути. Він є дрібка, легкий подув віяла у парус погрузлого по сам фальшборт корабля, який ще має шанс послужити ковчегом. Але що для мене саме після цього перегляду фільму стало очевидним -підбраний ключ вірно. Істоіря торкає серця молодих людей, залишає їх з відкритим зором і простягнутими руками.

Фільм був показаний в контексті Екуменічного Соціального тижня. Мабуть це також пояснює його успіх. Ціль тишня точно збігається із ціллю фільму. Шукати джерела, яке дозволить закінчити війну між церквами, партіями, суспільними верствами, народами. Промотор Тижня росіянин французького походження – Антуан Аржаковський – поставив цю акцію на широку ногу. В ці осінні дні до Львова зєїждаються провідні політики, науковці, релігійні діячі з цілого світу і з цілої України. В часі тижні заторкують теми благочинності, субсидіярности, екуменізму. Різноманітні соціальні служби як державні так і громадські враз відчувають до себе велику увагу ширшого загалу. Фільм три історії Галичини не те о просто збагатив цю палітру, він витворив особливе тло для всіх інших акцій Тижня, цілому тижню додав призадуми про те дійсність, на яку не реагує жодна соціальна служба, але яка неминуче впливає на людей, що проживають в регіоні – це задавнені рани міжетнічних конфліктів.


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What’s worse than jet-lag?

After having been treated like princesses throughout our stay in Hamburg, coming back to real life is no fun… much worse than jet-lag actually!

But luckily we brought back with us a selection of our best pictures from Hamburg, most of which we took from the top of St Michaelis Church.  We innocently walked into the church as we were exploring the streets of Hamburg along with a fellow filmmaker from Malaysia (look for his film Tiger Factory in theaters near you) and as we were about to exit, he noticed a sign that said “To the Tower.” Following the sign, we stumbled upon two old smiling ladies, just out of a fairytale book, serving water on the bottom of the stairs. We were very thirsty so we asked if we could have some water. They smiled, nodded but then pointed up and suggested that we might want to wait and drink when we actually come back from the top of the tower… that’s when we should have known!
After ten minutes going up a very narrow and very steep spiral stone stairway, we thought we had reached the top when in fact we had only managed to make it to the first level.  We passed the bells, and got to some scary wooden stairs that looked like they were hanging in thin air.  After another ten minutes climbing on those stairs, Olia turned towards Sarah and said: “Please tell my kids I love them!”

But the view was worth all the efforts! We will let you judge from the pictures…


The City Hall - view from the church tower

The famous harbor

Sarah, please tell my children I love them!

The bells on the first level of the tower

That's where we were!

The best souvenir we brought with us from Hamburg is a bottle of “Lemberg” wine that almost brought Olia to tears when she saw it.
Lemberg (also known as Lviv, Lvov, Lwow, etc) was the capital of Galicia and is now a major city in Western Ukraine.  It’s also incidentally the city where Olia is from.
Here is the story behind the Lemberg wine, as told to us by Benjamin Geissler, a German filmmaker:
Apparently, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Lemberg used to be known for its big wineries until Maria-Theresa decided to get rid of the alcoholism problem once and for all and cut all of the wineries.  But there was one man who truely loved the Lemberg grapes so he rescued a few vines and brought them to northern Germany.
That’s why today, if you travel to Hamburg, you can easily find bottles of Lemberg wine at any local grocery store.
PS: it tastes good and it’s not expensive.

Here is another selection of pictures, this time from the ground…

A magical moment in the afternoon

The cutest little cafes right on the water

In the courtyard of the City Hall

We will never look at pipes the same way again

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Our Second Screening in Hamburg

First, we saw the theater. On the morning of the screening we decided to take a few hours off to enjoy the city.  The weather was beautiful and we wanted to see the famous Hamburg harbor.   While taking a walk on the old town central street we noticed a familiar image of a man hiding behind a door: the poster of The Three Stories of Galicia. It was right next to the poster of Eat, Pray, Love – the Hollywood blockbuster starring Julia Roberts.  The movie theater “Passage” where our film was screening had a display of the different films playing that day.  It was a good feeling to see our poster in such fine company!


Our film poster in good company


In the evening, when we got to the theater to test the sound and picture and speak with our moderator, we had a chance to look around and enjoy the lobby of this remarkable movie theater.  It was just recently fully renovated and preserved its look from the beginning of the century.

Looking at the theater, one can easily imagine the type of audience it must have been built for.  People are wearing their evening best. The ladies are seated in comfortable leather chairs, while the gentlemen stay in line at the bar to get cocktails or a glass of wine. Perhaps somebody is waiting for their party to arrive…  As the movie is about to start, everybody goes up the stairs covered in… a red carpet! Coming up these stairs everyone feels like a star.


The night of the 2nd screening with our host Alex and our moderator Claire, two great people we were lucky to meet in Hamburg.



Would anybody be surprised if we admit we preferred having cocktails as opposed to watching our film yet another time?


The screening itself was pretty successful: all the tickets were sold out, more chairs needed to be brought in and every second member of the public had tears in their eyes.  We must admit we had to have a few cocktails ourselves that evening to recover from this wonderful experience.  The Q&A section afterwards proved once more that people who came to see our film knew a lot about the subject matter.

During the first screening we had one question about the credibility of the characters in our film; we were asked if we thought our characters were telling the truth.  This question was in reference to Olia’s story as a representative of the Ukrainian resistance.  Interestingly, just before we left for Hamburg somebody had asked as if we believed Aharon’s story. Our answer was that in all three instances we made a conscious choice to believe our characters and a conscious decision to present the events from their perspective.  As one of our filmmaker friends from Hamburg said: “Somebody needed to start the three-way conversation. This film is a good start”.

So during this second screening, we were prepared to hear more comments like that, questioning our interpretation of the events and our choice of characters, but there were none. There were a lot of positive comments from the audience and a lot of interest when we shared some anecdotes about the making of the film.

We also have to say that we had a wonderful moderator, Claire Wilisch who is a documentary filmmaker herself and who really took the time to learn about us, about the film and the region itself.  We were lucky and very happy to have her with us. Thanks Claire!

At the end, one of the members of the audience said he was from Lviv on a business trip and had learned about the film by accident.  “You have made a film about my family, he said.  My uncle and my father didn’t speak to each other for forty years because during the war they were fighting on opposite sides.  Thank you for making this film”.


We just got the official pictures from our first screening so we're cheating and including them here!



Post-screening discussion


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Funny Zebra Filmmaker… Good!

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Two filmmakers’ guide of the streets of Hamburg:
If you want to get an authentic local experience, you have to:
1-Eat sausage curry on a standing street stand
2-Drink beer with lemonade (actually tastes pretty good)
3-Joke about being a Hamburger (we think the name probably comes from the feeling of being run over by one of the over-aggressive cyclists on the sidewalk – others might think it has to do with the name of the city, we’re not quite sure)
4-Know that Hamburg is the city where the Beatles became famous
5-Finally, and most importantly, just like in London you have to talk about the weather, here in Hamburg you’d better have an opinion about the new philharmonic orchestra building that is currently under construction at the very famous harbor. The construction is very controversial: some think that it will soon overshadow the Sydney opera house and become an incomparable landmark of the city, and others are appalled by the amount of money that is being overspent on the project while other cultural endeavors find their budgets cut off.

So where does the title of the post come from?
We went today to check out the “Pony Bar”, a local bar and coffee shop that holds the administrative offices of the festival and became de-facto the official hanging-out spot for filmmakers and festival guests.

When approaching the bar, Olia was stopped by a random stranger:
– “’Ich mag deinen Mantel”… he said.
–  Excuse me? Olia replied.  She had no idea he had told her that he liked her coat.
–  The stranger continued: “Hamburg, conservative city. Funny zebra filmmaker in Hamburg… gut!”

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