Voices of Ukraine
The film The Russian Woodpecker, a new documentary film about a secret Soviet antenna and a Ukrainian man [Fedor Alexandrovitch] who must decide whether to risk his life by revealing the secrets he uncovers, has won the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival!
The movie storyline reads that: while researching a secret Soviet antenna at Chernobyl, which interrupted global radio communications from 1976 – 1989, Fedor Alexandrovich uncovers a dark conspiracy. The scientists and military men dismiss his warnings that Russia is behind a massive cover-up and he descends into a nightmare where he battles the antenna on his own terms. When he is invited to address the crowds in Kyiv’s [Maidan] Revolution Square during the height of the protests, he fears that powerful men may kill him if he speaks out.
The film’s Director Chad Gracia, in his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, spoke out eloquently about the plight of Ukrainian filmmaker/director Oleg Sentsov who participated in the Automaidan Civil Movement and was arrested by Russian authorities in Crimea in their campaign unleashed against Russian policy opponents in that occupied Ukrainian territory (at the one hour and 18 min. mark – 1:18:00):
“I feel lucky to be here because, as you may know, a good friend of mine Artem was shot by snipers and almost killed while we were making this film, and he recovered. Fedor was threatened, and his family, by the KGB [sic] but he’s still with us. But many Ukrainians, thousands of Ukrainians, and many Ukrainian artists are not as lucky.
And I want to just say a particular word for Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is now in Russian prison, in Moscow, on trumped up charges, he faces 20 years, and all he did was make movies and he questioned the Russian invasion of Crimea where he happened to be. So, this award is for those Ukrainians, people like Oleg. I hope we don’t forget about him. I don’t think we can stop Russia with bombs. But I think with a little bit of art and truth maybe we can make some progress. Thank you Sundance for being a platform and for supporting art and truth and for giving us this global platform to tell our story.”
At 1:19:50, cinematographer Artem Ryzhykov took the microphone with a very emotionally sincere statement:
“I wish to let you know we have very good school directors of photography in Ukraine. Thank you so much [to] my teachers Bohdan Verzhbitsky and Vadim Vereshchak – but I would like to concentrate the attention on [the] many thousands, the best Ukrainian people, who were killed in the past year. A lot of them were artists. I hope this film [will be] as even something [that] will change this situation and will help Ukraine. Thank you so much from all Ukrainians. Slava Ukraini! [Glory to Ukraine!]”
“Audience, I want to say: save Ukraine now! Tomorrow will be late. When the Kremlin attacked Chechnya, nothing [was] stopping him, when [the] Kremlin attacked Georgia, nothing [was] stopping him. Now [the] Kremlin attacked Ukraine. And next will [be] NATO, next will [be] Europa, next [it] will [be] worldwide. Save Ukraine please.”
Hollywood Reporter, The Russian Woodpecker Sundance review
Hollywood Reporter, Sundance Awards 2015 Winners List