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How Young NY Documentarian Helped Rising of Ukraine

December 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on How Young NY Documentarian Helped Rising of Ukraine

“I hope that the things people are fighting for – fighting against corruption and for better lives – I hope they get those things because they lost a lot to get there.” – Vanessa Black, Filmmaker.


 

What compelled you to travel to Ukraine at a time of danger and violence? Did your “filmmaker’s” curiosity about Ukraine push you to go document historic moments or spreading awareness seemed more important to you?

As a filmmaker, I wanted  to tell a story about real life that was in the MTV language for the American youth to understand. My goal was to explain the revolution to a younger audience. I bought a ticket as soon as I read about the sniper attacks on February 18th and I was on a plane four days later and a few days after I arrived the crisis in Crimea broke out.  So what was going to be a revolution story turned into a war story.

I was working on a project in Egypt that was going to be geared towards young people as a way to better understand what had happened there, but I had been watching what had been going on in Kiev because I have dear friends that live there and I spent some time living there as well, and I knew that it was a city that I could go to and do this project in, so I adapted it to the Ukrainian Revolution.

Freedom for Easter #UkraineRising #BLKFLM #NewYorkCity #StreetArt

A photo posted by VANESSA BLACK (@blkflm) on

Last year’s uprising was initiated by the young people born in a post-communism and an independent country, however, restricted by the same old politics. Did those young people resonate with you in any way?

The youth in Ukraine have been faced with an extraordinary crisis so there’s a completely different mindset, they care a lot and they’re a lot more like our grandparents than we are.

They believe in patriotism and nationalism. They have to fight for their freedom and that’s not something we can relate to because we’re so privileged to have this luxury of freedom.  We don’t even really recognize it. We’re so blasé here, and so unimpassioned and it is so celebrated in our culture. It would be great if we were more passionate about anything. I think if people start caring more about their futures and their dreams, they might feel like they have a purpose. Maybe then we’d start caring about everything else.  It’s this backwards culture we keep being served in media and advertising.

While gathering material in Maidan, interviewing people from different parts of Ukraine that together represented the whole country in one location, did the overall scenario feel different compared to watching it through TV or reading about it in the news?

I was shocked to find out that the anonymous “protestors” you read about in the news are overwhelmingly normal people. Imagine the cast of characters on any subway car in New York City – that will give you an idea of who the protestors were.

These normal people were in a real war in their hometown, and they were being tortured and killed by their own government. I am in awe of their bravery. I keep saying Kiev is a city of heroes. Grandmothers would hit the Special Forces with bats. Unbelievable.

Do you think Western media, in particular US, gives the ongoing conflict justice in the media? Does it deserves more coverage in order for US and its citizens to actually care about some crisis on the other side of the world?

Media doesn’t really convey what’s it feel like to be there so it’s hard to relate to. It’s a really big deal and it’s a huge conflict between the United States and Russia. It’s going to devalue Russia as a global superpower and it’s making NATO relevant again.

I don’t think I realized the scale of it. I mean you see pictures online and you see video clips but then when you’re actually in it it’s such a different experience because you’re in the thick of it.  You see how grand and devastating the urban battle field really is. I spent time around grenades, guns and all kinds of homemade weapons.

We live in such a globalized society that they’re not just the Ukrainians on the other side of the world, they’re in our face, they’re part of us, and we should know about that.

I was exposed to your work on Elite Daily and remember being caught by surprise on the NY streets seeing trucks with #UKRAINERISING and large photos at that time. A year later, street rallies and posters are basically out of sight, out of mind but Russia continues the war. What can NY activists do continue spreading awareness?

When I got back I immediately decided to do an urban gallery for New Yorkers about a revolution that was created by everyday people doing extraordinary things. I wanted it to be a gallery for the people, not in some sterile, white-walled gallery, it should be for everyone to see.  I also created #UkraineRising, tagging all of my posts in English, Russia and Ukrainian so that people all over the world could access the information.  I thought it’s an opportunity to use and express our voices.

I think relentlessness in activism is important. They cant stop until they get what they came out to do in the first place. Right now social media is the most powerful tool to keep going and continue talking about it. This is an unbelievable moment in history where you can have access to millions of people with the click of a button. I think it’s a tool that’s under used and I think we’re just beginning to understand how we can use it for good.

#vezzarium #ukrainerising #nyc

A photo posted by Alena Vezza aka Alya (@vezzarium) on

We met at Digital Maidan hosted by RAZOM FOR UKRAINE, an organization you’re  involved with. Tell me more about your collaboration?

BLKFLM supports RAZOM (which means “together” in Ukrainian) by raising awareness and helping promote their mission to foster Ukrainian democracy and civil society through a global network of experts and organizations supporting democracy activists and human rights advocates throughout Ukraine.

RAZOM and BLKFM use powerful social networking tools like #UKRAINERISING and organized Twitter hashtags storms. We collaborated after I arrived from Kiev and started the “public gallery.”  I reached out to pitch my documentary that was in the editing process at that point. They helped to promote my series on social platforms among the Ukrainian community while I did my part in the media like Huffington Post which picked up my posts from Elite Daily, other millennial platforms like Buzzed, Refinery 29.

Do you plan to continue working on the mission that BLKFM took on?

I continue to follow Ukraine amid my other projects. I plan to go back to Kiev when i get a chance to continue documenting the progress. Together with Razom, BLKFM plans to collaborate on the future films and active social media presence.

I want people to pay attention to what’s going on outside of their immediate world. This isn’t about some political conflict going on somewhere else in the world, it’s about our fellow mankind and what they’re struggling with right now and it’s important for all of us to be aware.

“Power to the individual. We can do insane things, believe in yourself. All of those clichés are clichés because they’re true.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: new york · pro peace · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · ukraine

Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

December 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

  Back safely in NYC after the gnarliest & most grueling month of work covering the Ukrainian Crisis. Grateful for the love & growth on this journey. Work continues stateside. The conflict is not over. #StopPutin #UkraineRising #Киев #Київ #Україна #Украина #революция #Russia #kiev #Ukraine A photo posted by VANESSA BLACK | BLKFLM (@blkflm) on … Continue reading Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

Tags: Featured · new york · pro peace · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · ukraine

Ukrainian Institute of America: Spreads Culture Through Peace and War

November 10th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Ukrainian Institute of America: Spreads Culture Through Peace and War

Ms. Sidlovych-director at the UIA
Ms. Sidlovych-director at the UIA

Olena Sidlovych invited me to her office inside of an old mention known as the Ukrainian Institute of America  on the 79th street of the Fifth Avenue Museum Mile across the scenic Central Park.

The UIA’s mission at large focuses on spreading the Ukrainian traditions and keeping them alive for the New York diaspora of many Ukrainian generations by hosting various cultural events, expositions and concerts.

Today, the institute took on a critical role to spread awareness about the historical turn of events in Ukraine that turned from a peaceful protest in Kiev’s central square (Maidan) last November – to a current undeclared war on the country’s East boarder to defend the rights and freedom of citizens and county’s independence.

Expositions straight from Maidan, Kiev,  are currently housed under the ancient roof of the institute.

– “Maidan. Ukraine. Road To Freedom” – ” Paintings, posters, photography, film and music by Ukrainian artists who participated in Ukraine’s uprising against a corrupt regime.”

– “Taras Polataiko. War. 11 Portraits”- “Polataiko’s project of 11 injured Ukrainian soldiers, launched the National Art Museum of Ukraine’s fundraiser for the wounded in the war against Russian invasion.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Media · new york · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · uia · ukrainian institute of america

Ukrainian Institute of America: Spreads Culture Through Peace and War

November 10th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Ukrainian Institute of America: Spreads Culture Through Peace and War

The UIA’s mission at large focuses on spreading the Ukrainian traditions. Today, the institute took on a critical role to…

Tags: Media · new york · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · uia · ukrainian institute of america

Teacher Turned Activist: Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY

October 30th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Teacher Turned Activist: Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY

I met Valentina Bardakova last February on the Brooklyn Bridge. She appeared as a young beautiful blonde giving out Ukrainian flags to the crowd that came out to support the Human Chain of Freedom Walk she organized with the fellow campaigners.

Tags: activist · Brooklyn Bridge Human Chain of Freedom · Q&A · UA · ukraine · Ukrainian · Valentina Bardakova

Teacher Turned Activist: Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY

October 30th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Teacher Turned Activist: Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY

 I met Valentina Bardakova last February on the Brooklyn Bridge. She appeared as a young beautiful blonde  giving out Ukrainian flags to the crowd that came out to support the Human Chain of Freedom Walk she organized with fellow campaigners. Ms. Bardakova handed me an American flag to hold as a symbol of New York diaspora’s support of the fallen heroes in Kiev. Her notable initiative was a profound moment for the empathetic folks that joined that day.

On a chilling Saturday afternoon the they walked singing Ukrainian National Anthem and occasionally remembered the victims of Maidan in emotional prayers. Ms. Valentina, 38, led the chain through Brooklyn Bridge with slogans echoing “Heroes never die,” or “Glory to the Heroes” and in response the crowd chanted, “Glory to Ukraine.”

Almost a year later, formerly a Ukrainian elementary school teacher from Chernigiv, channeled her patriotic sense of urgency into a small non-profit organization Ukraine Abroad International NGO. The group collects donations in New York for the Ukrainian military and children hospitals. They believe the charity serves an invaluable role to the soldiers and people that predominantly dependent on volunteers as the nation scrambles for federal aid.

Teacher Turned Activist: Woman Behind Ukraine's Biggest Protests in NY
Brooklyn Bridge Unity Walk. February 22, 2014

How did Ukraine Abroad International NGO come about?

It all started with the protests in New York. I was an active participant in various movement that eventually led up the formation of “Ukraine Abroad”.  I started as an observer participating in protests. Soon I came to understand that many people couldn’t give as much support or attention as they could because of other commitments. I didn’t work, so I decided to become one of the NY’s organizers . My first event was upon my return from Kiev in January. I wasn’t active on Facebook at the time so I had to seek out other NY activists from the the Ukrainian diaspora.  I found more support later, after joining the online community. I wanted to do something  when the officials were killing the unarmed protestors and one of my friends told me about many others who want to come out to show support. That quickly formed into the The Human Chain of Freedom walk.

I’ve been an active participant in various movements and now my team and I work on medical and humanitarian aid. As we say it here, it’s now a full time job.

TEACHER TURNED ACTIVIST: WOMAN BEHIND BIGGEST UKRAINIAN PROTESTS IN NY
Ms. Bardakova is organizing medical aid supplies. 

What is the main focus of your team?

Given more opportunities as some sort of organization, the charity work gets easier. Our small group of six activists focuses on charity work for the Ukrainian military currently deployed in the East.

“Ukraine Abroad” works with American hospitals to gather medication, medical equipment to send out to the Ukrainian charitable foundation we co-work with in Kiev. They distribute our packages to the hospitals in Odessa, Kiev, children hospitals and battle grounds in Dnipropetrovsk, Ilovaysk by necessities.

How active is your organization with donations?

Currently, we’re organizing charity work through the web. We just sent out the first batch of tactic backpacks for physicians at the forefront. It’s mostly equipped with surgical apparatus, something that Ukraine lacks. The idea was to work on medical aid first and foremost because of the national shortage. It’s something that we felt would be most helpful as an aid organization.

TEACHER TURNED ACTIVIST: WOMAN BEHIND BIGGEST UKRAINIAN PROTESTS IN NY
Tactic backpacks for Ukrainian physicians. PHOTO CREDIT: Ukraine Abroad Facebook Page.

Where did you find yourself at the time of the November revolt when the ex Ukrainian President declined to sign the association with EU?

I was in New York waiting for something to happen. Tensions were in the air and I predicted his retreat. He wasn’t the kind of person to support European Union. He always listened to Kremlin. So I thought either in this historical moment the people will silently let it happen or we can fight for freedom and European ideals to finally become an absolutely independent nation. I followed the news daily since November. And I also knew I had to be there.

What motivated you to pack up and go to Kiev?

I never felt like a free Ukrainian citizen. When one million Ukrainians gathered in Maidan on December 1st, I felt like people finally woke up. The Ukraine has changed and there is no return. Newly liberated people came together consciously, and I wanted to be a part of that movement. I flew to Kiev on December 31. It was a feeling of one family, free people, and romanticism. I met many from remote places even from Russia who said they came here to feel free for the first time. It was special to see people’s eyes, something extraordinary. So much positive energy surrounding the place that people wanted to come everyday. The crowd was very easygoing.

Did that experience push you to become an activist and do what you are doing today in NY for Ukraine?

The experience changed me. I never considered myself a leader or an activist. Such active persona was unnatural to my being that I’d rather be a background supporter rather than a front woman. Because my role today takes a lot of responsibility for people,  responsibility to motivate and deposit a certain message, I have to be an example and a definition of a leader. After the Maidan, I couldn’t sit at home anymore. When events in Ukraine took a turn for the worst, I had to do something.

How do you describe the feeling that guides your active work?

It’s a feeling of humanity. It makes me a person who desires peace, love, empathy. I’ve met many people who’ve asked to hide the graphic images of the bodies from Maidan, because they’d rather not see them. I said that does not interest me. Some indifferent people that live in a false reality both in New York and at home in Ukraine asked if my life here lacked excitement or an emotional charge that I had to come to Kiev. It’s very scary if a person is indifferent, even scarier than angry.

Tags: activist · Brooklyn Bridge Human Chain of Freedom · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · ukraine · Ukrainian · Valentina Bardakova

“Material Evidence. Syria, Ukraine” Gallery Offends New Yorkers

October 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on “Material Evidence. Syria, Ukraine” Gallery Offends New Yorkers

The ArtBeam gallery in Chelsea last week concluded an amateur photojournalistic exhibit shot from the epicenters of violence across the ocean. Material Evidence. Syria, Ukraine…Who is next curated by a German photojournalist Benjamin Hiller, for four weeks greeted inquisitive Ukrainian immigrants among the New York crowd.

Tags: exhibition · material evidence · material evidence syria ukraine · new york · PRO PEACE NY · RUS · UA · ukraine

Material Evidence: Ukraine Reacts

October 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Material Evidence: Ukraine Reacts

The ArtBeam gallery in Chelsea last week concluded an amateur photojournalistic exhibit shot from the epicenters of violence across the ocean. Material Evidence. Syria, Ukraine…Who is next curated by a German photojournalist Benjamin Hiller, for four weeks greeted inquisitive Ukrainian immigrants among the New York crowd.

“My first impression was that it seems to be trying to make the ultimate experience with a minimum expenditure of efforts”

-shared a familiar with Ukraine’s events visiting journalist, Dmytro Desiatyruk that reports for Kiev’s local newspaper.

Hiller’s project showcased prior in Russia, Brussels and Berlin, aggregated a gallery of anonymous images to uncover the truth behind debating realities of Syrian civil war and Ukraine’s gruesome revolt captured from Kiev’s Independence Square.

The visitors were invited to contemplate on the next potential civil outbreak through impressionistic visuals from Syria and Ukraine. The  most controversial chapter of the exhibition uses various artifacts and action shots from the heart of Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti largely focused on the civilian aggression.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
A protestor in Maidan attacking police. (No author name found)

The images of “Neo-Nazi” rebels and civilian men attacking police with handmade firebombs, bulldozers, and destruction of the military equipment follow a mere representation of the peaceful  capital.

"Neo-Nazi" rebells
“Neo-Nazi” rebells. (No author name found)
Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
Right: Center of Kiev prior to beginning of November protests
Left: Kiev’s Aftermath. (No author name found)

The thematic aggression was also portrayed with falls advertisement.  One of the large photographs in the middle of randomly structured  hall, captured a water cannon truck massively used on protestors in the middle of winter– yet captioned the contrary.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next ?
In the picture: water cannon truck in Maidan. (No author name found)
material evidence ukraine, syria
Caption under photo with a water cannon truck. (No author name found)

The Syrian  photographic motif contrasts Ukraine’s condemnation of civilian revolutionaries  with an evident mourning of civilian and military fatalities while denouncing the Syrian president. The discerned rawness feel of the civil war in a dingy gallery space carried an empathetic crowd through the  prints of the Damascus war zone; shelled communities, schools and homes.

According to the exhibition’s website, the visuals were gathered by nameless “concerned journalists” willing to risks lives in order to show the “other” side of the truth, they note  mainstream media omits.

Desiatyruk concerned about the authenticity of pictures questioned the integrity of Hiller’s mission to expose the “journalistic truth” of the conflict.

“The organizers pulled from the Internet photos from the winter events in Kiev and Ukraine,” he said. “No one said a word about authorship of printed  images.”

The Ukrainian journalist believes that the whole concept of the project indirectly characterizes the true state of affairs in regard to the vaunted propaganda machine he named Putin.

“The main thing is that this show is not reflecting the real story of the events in Ukraine.”

The guestbook at the end of the tour speaks for itself.  The visitor comments that appreciated the effort truth exposure appeared lost among the inked anger. Many comments exuded strong suspicions of the pro-Russian propaganda.

The disclaimer poster above the comments informs the visitors that the gallery didn’t not take sides in the conflict but rather wanted to show world the truth as they saw it.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
Guestbook shows unambiguous thoughts.

 

 

 

Tags: exhibition · material evidence · material evidence syria ukraine · new york · PRO PEACE NY · RUS · UA · ukraine

Material Evidence: Ukraine Reacts

October 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Material Evidence: Ukraine Reacts

The ArtBeam gallery in Chelsea last week concluded an amateur photojournalistic exhibit shot from the epicenters of violence across the ocean. Material Evidence. Syria, Ukraine…Who is next curated by a German photojournalist Benjamin Hiller, for four weeks greeted inquisitive Ukrainian immigrants among the New York crowd.

“My first impression was that it seems to be trying to make the ultimate experience with a minimum expenditure of efforts”

-shared a familiar with Ukraine’s events visiting journalist, Dmytro Desiatyruk that reports for Kiev’s local newspaper.

Hiller’s project showcased prior in Russia, Brussels and Berlin, aggregated a gallery of anonymous images to uncover the truth behind debating realities of Syrian civil war and Ukraine’s gruesome revolt captured from Kiev’s Independence Square.

The visitors were invited to contemplate on the next potential civil outbreak through impressionistic visuals from Syria and Ukraine. The  most controversial chapter of the exhibition uses various artifacts and action shots from the heart of Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti largely focused on the civilian aggression.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
A protestor in Maidan attacking police. (No author name found)

The images of “Neo-Nazi” rebels and civilian men attacking police with handmade firebombs, bulldozers, and destruction of the military equipment follow a mere representation of the peaceful  capital.

"Neo-Nazi" rebells
“Neo-Nazi” rebells. (No author name found)
Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
Right: Center of Kiev prior to beginning of November protests
Left: Kiev’s Aftermath. (No author name found)

The thematic aggression was also portrayed with falls advertisement.  One of the large photographs in the middle of randomly structured  hall, captured a water cannon truck massively used on protestors in the middle of winter– yet captioned the contrary.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next ?
In the picture: water cannon truck in Maidan. (No author name found)
material evidence ukraine, syria
Caption under photo with a water cannon truck. (No author name found)

The Syrian  photographic motif contrasts Ukraine’s condemnation of civilian revolutionaries  with an evident mourning of civilian and military fatalities while denouncing the Syrian president. The discerned rawness feel of the civil war in a dingy gallery space carried an empathetic crowd through the  prints of the Damascus war zone; shelled communities, schools and homes.

According to the exhibition’s website, the visuals were gathered by nameless “concerned journalists” willing to risks lives in order to show the “other” side of the truth, they note  mainstream media omits.

Desiatyruk concerned about the authenticity of pictures questioned the integrity of Hiller’s mission to expose the “journalistic truth” of the conflict.

“The organizers pulled from the Internet photos from the winter events in Kiev and Ukraine,” he said. “No one said a word about authorship of printed  images.”

The Ukrainian journalist believes that the whole concept of the project indirectly characterizes the true state of affairs in regard to the vaunted propaganda machine he named Putin.

“The main thing is that this show is not reflecting the real story of the events in Ukraine.”

The guestbook at the end of the tour speaks for itself.  The visitor comments that appreciated the effort truth exposure appeared lost among the inked anger. Many comments exuded strong suspicions of the pro-Russian propaganda.

Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine...Who's Next?
Guestbook shows unambiguous thoughts.

The disclaimer poster above the comments informs the visitors that the gallery didn’t not take sides in the conflict but rather wanted to show world the truth as they saw it.

 

 

Tags: material evidence · material evidence syria ukraine · new york · PRO PEACE NY · UA · ukraine

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