Continuing the culture theme from my last post, I’d like to share some insight into the roll Ukrainian culture is playing in the war. Everyone in Ukraine is very proud of their unique cultural heritage and the murderous Russian attacks have only made that pride stronger and more resilient.
Kyivans absolutely adore their city and it’s easy to understand why. Almost every street has a shop selling art supplies or musical instruments, and chic neighbourhoods like Golden Gate are brimming with independent fashion brands, galleries, bookstores and theatres. Nearly everyone has tickets to an opera or a concert once a week, and pop-up art exhibits and fashion events are bursting with eager patrons.
Ukrainians know that Putin’s terrible war is an attempt to extinguish their cultural heritage so the only way they can preserve it is to fight.
Culture vs War
Recently I was exposed to one of the most powerful and heart-wrenching examples of how far Ukrainians will go to preserve their culture from destruction. Andrii Rizol, is a Ukrainian marketer and film producer who established Watch Ukraine. This organization connects the country’s cinematic community with top communication executives to raise awareness of the crucial role culture has played throughout the history of Ukraine.
Andrii’s most recent project is a series of short documentary films called Culture vs War that has been travelling across Ukraine from the front lines to the gardens of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv. I was fortunate to be invited to his screenings on the beautiful lawn of the 1200-year-old cathedral. It was a moving and solemn reminder of just how long Kyiv has been the cultural heart of the Slavic people.
Culture vs War chronicles famous Ukrainian cultural icons like rock band Antytila, Crimean Tatar actor Akhtem Seitablaiev, and cinematographer Serhiy Mykhalchuk as they abandoned their successful careers to fight for Ukraine’s heritage. The power of the imagery combined with the no-nonsense sensibility of the musicians, artists, actors and cinematographers to join the army left me crying like a baby.
Here are the first three of Culture vs War short films. Grab a box of tissues and see for yourself what’s at stake for Ukraine. I guarantee you’ll realize that a healthy and vibrant culture is the essence of any nation.
Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!