We left Ukraine on the 31st of July. On the road from Kyiv to Lviv the sky was bluer and the clouds were whiter than ever before, as if to remind us of what we would soon be missing. The 7 hour trip was almost effortless thanks to our dear Denis who started as a driver and ended up being our production assistant, sound operator and even the kids’ baby sitter. (Thanks Denis!)
The flight back to the US was very long but things went quite smoothly. We even passed the US customs in a record time because the officers took pity on two women with crying kids and a ton of equipment. What was even better is that none of the bags (tripod, light case, sound equipment, etc…) were missing!
Back in Washington DC, I was glad to be in an environment where I could understand what was going on around me but everything seemed confined and over-processed. I found out later that Olia felt the exact same thing. Washington is a beautiful city, I can’t really complain about it, but after spending six week literally between the blue sky and the yellow fields, everything here seemed too planned, organized and processed. I am over that feeling now and I appreciate the comfort of my own apartment and the luxury of sleeping in a bed rather than in a car.
Filming didn’t really stop, even with us back in the US. Our camera operator Petro is currently at the Univ monastery in Western Ukraine, filming the youth camp that Aharon Weiss organizes every summer. The camp called the Ark, aims at bringing Ukrainian, Jewish and Polish youth together in order for them to go beyond prejudice and get to know each other’s cultures and traditions.
This year about 50 young people from different backgrounds gathered at Univ which is a highly symbolic location since it was the place where Clementi Sheptytsky was hiding around a hundred Jewish children during the Second World War. Yesterday, all the participants traveled to Poland with Aharon and visited the Belzec concentration camp as well as the village of Pawlokoma where Ukrainian inhabitants were killed by a Polish military group in 1945. We were even told by the Lviv City Administration that the mayor himself was present at the opening of the camp.
For more information about the youth camp, check out this link (article in Ukrainian only)
We are also currently involved in planning a conference about Ukrainian Righteous Among Nations that will take place in Lviv during the fall. That conference is an example of how the act of filmmaking itself can become a tool for reconciliation and social change. We had started out by filming Aharon’s story and the Lviv City Administration was helping us with logistics. So there were only a few steps left to bring Aharon and the City Administration together to organize a conference which will be dealing with very some sensitive issues including the case of Metropolitan Andreij Sheptytsky.
We will be back regularly updating the blog with more news.