'HERITAGE OF THE NATION', THE FIRST FEATURE-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY ABOUT VYSHYVANKA
Olkesandr Tkachuk, the film director, 'The documentary 'Heritage of the Nation' is an opportunity to submerse into unknown part of Ukrainian culture, change our usual attitude to embroidered shirt, realize that it is neither an item, nor a piece of fabric with colorful threads; it is a symbol that used to inspire, protect and help Ukrainians to live longer. We have collected unique stories that can demonstrate it. The characters impress with their loyalty and faithfulness to vyshyvanka, willingness even to die for it. On the other hand, the film demonstrates Ukrainian history and struggle with the enemies. The history must be remembered'.
On May 12, the premier of the first feature-length documentary about embroidered shirts 'Heritage of the Nation' takes place in Kyiv.
Lesya Voroniuk, the documentary film writer and author, tells about the process and plans for the future.
1. How did the idea of the film come? Who or what inspired you?
The idea to make a film about vyshyvaknka came to my mind a year ago, after the Vyshyvanka Day celebration. As the event organizer, my friends and I realized that this day turned into world-wide holiday because the day has been celebrated at least at 40 different countries. We realized that we also need to introduce the culture to people so that they could understand it better and could feel it. An embroidered shirt is not just a trend or fashion, not even a self-identification during the war, it is a very deep symbol. It is a genetic code of Ukrainians. By saying a genetic code I do not mean some ornaments similar to human genes - a genetic code is generated on the basis of the experience of past generations. Everything that our ancestors went through – fails and victories, natural cultural prosperity and artificially created decay – is transmitted to our culture, in particular, in shirts.
For a long time I had been thinking how to tell about the shirts so that the audience would understand their original value. Eventually, I realized that it won’t be enough just to show ethnic and regional diversity of ornaments, colors, cuts, and stitches. I started reflecting on people and shirts. While meditating some stories when an embroidered shirt turned into a symbol of struggle and last hope emerged in my mind. Sometimes shirts played the same role as humans. That’s why the movie combines two lines: ethnographic and stories of people.
2. How many people were involved in the film production? Who are they?
The core team consists of three people. Oleksandr Tkachuk (the film director, co-organizer of the World Day of Vyshyvanka, the author of 'Music of the Warriors' project), Oleksii Dolia (scientific consultant) and me (the author and film writer). Overall, more than 20 people all over the world, cameramen, journalists, social activists, contributed into the film. By the way, the film was shot in 6 countries: Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Canada, UAE and Russia.
3. How long did the filmmaking process last?
It took us about a year to make the film. At the begining we hoped to complete it in 3-4 months, however, when we submersed into the process we realized we needed much more time. We started one expedition that was followed by another two or three. One topic resulted in a few ones to discover. We hadn’t expected to collect so much interesting material! I guess 80% or even 90% of the information will be completely new for the audience.
4. What was the most pleasant discover while working at the film?
The most pleasant moment was to find the material that you have never heard, seen or imagined. It inspires because you understand that Ukrainian culture is an unlimited and endless source. We have something to preserve, to show to the world, to our children, and to the future generations. We are not coming from the cultural desert or the Soviet red ties. We are an oasis of the world civilization.
5. What does this film mean for you personally?
For me this film is very precious. It is like a baby that first you dream of, then carry and then give a birth to. I want so much the Ukrainians to turn into diamond, that is absolutely strong, firm and united, nation. I want this process to be irrevocable and not spontaneous, I want us to remember about vyshyvanka and Shevchenko not just in the time of war, I want the trigger of self-identification and responsibility be always on. If it had been this way, I am sure the war would never have happened…
6. Who financed the film?
Chernivtsi City Council and sponsors.
7. Do you plan to provide the film with English subtitles to open it to foreign audience?
Yes, we are already working at English, French and German subtitles.
8. Do you plan to present the film abroad? In what countries?
Yes, we do. We have requests from France, Germany, USA, Canada. I do hope it will be shown in many other countries.