It has been a while since I posted anything, but I guess filming all day long and keeping a blog don’t really go well together. To keep things consistent, I will continue were I had left off.
Sunday morning, just back from Kyiv, we embarked on a journey to try and find Florian, one of the main characters in the film. Last summer, Olia had visited him in his village three hours away from Lviv. This year, most of the phone numbers in Ukraine were changed and we had no way of getting in contact with him. So we just got in the car of Olia’s friend Petro, a great cinematographer who is going to be working with us for the rest of the shoot and decided to drive there. The journey on the way to finding Florian was extraordinary. The pictures speak better about that much better than I would. We passed through huge fields of wheat and poppy flowers, children playing soccer in the sunset, swans swimming on the lake in front of a church, etc…
The people’s hospitality on the road was also amazing. After driving for more than five hours we were exhausted and starving. As we stopped by a house in a village to ask for directions, the man just told us to wait. He came back with his two sons and a jug of milk… straight from the cow!
We finally found Florian’s village. I was very excited. I had only seen him on video and pictures, although we had been working on his story for a whole year. Olia jumped out of the car and ran to the house. I saw her getting close to the door and then stopping suddenly. I came closer only to see a lock and a cross on the door. I froze. We turned around and realized the small garden around the house looked like it had been abandoned for quite some time. It was like a nightmare coming true. We knew our characters were very old and in bad health but we didn’t want to think they could die. A man sitting by the church next to the house confirmed our fears. Florian had died two months ago. We learned that his wife had gone to Lviv with her daughter but Florian’s wife’s brother still lived in the village. We got to their house, knocked on their door, and tried to explain to them how we were making this film with Florian. They were very suspicious of us to start with. They were almost ready to kick us out, when we thought of giving them the postcard of the film (Thanks Karin!!). They saw Florian’s picture on it and their eyes literally filled with tears. It was very moving seeing this huge man, who was about to take his shovel and kick out of his house suddenly soften and ask us to stay. Not only did they give us an interview, but they invited us for tea afterwards. Telling them that we had to leave because we had to do some more filming before the sun sets was totally useless! The old lady even gave us food for the road. It was amazing. We got the contact information of Florian’s daughter in Lviv and his sister in Wroclaw, Poland. We have already established contact with them and set dates for meeting them and filming.