GOLOS: Ukrainian Voices is a powerful and emotive documentary about Ukraine today. Written, produced, co-directed and narrated by London-based actress and writer Dolya Gavanski, and with a haunting score by Alexander ‘Sacha’ Puttnam, the film provides a platform for people to be heard, wherever they are, or whatever their age, education, ethnic and economic backgrounds as they share their remembrances far from the cacophony of political voices and mass media. This is Gavanski’s first feature as a writer/producer/co-director; her co-director is young Ukrainian filmmaker Fedor Levchenko.
The Maidan revolution, which is where the narrative begins, creates the backdrop as we visit four cities and listen to the people who live there. By documenting what people celebrate and what national holidays mean to them, GOLOS provides a context for people to communicate their hopes, fears and ambitions. It shows a common struggle for peace despite differences of opinion, and the influences and memories that form Ukrainian identity. Who are we? What makes us tick? Their voices tell us not only of the multifaceted nature of Ukraine’s reality, but also something of the nature of human identity.
“As a Londoner used to the global mix of people and attitudes, I am moved – sometimes to sardonic laughter and sometime s to tears of fury – by the absurd and bloody politics of identity in post-Soviet Europe” explains Gavanski, who is in her thirties. “As Jack Nicholson’s character said in Mars Attacks!: ‘why can’t we all just get along?’. Gavanski’s incredible personal story began as a seven year-old pioneer of Tito’s Yugoslavia. “I also recollect, in the tragic deaths in contemporary Ukraine, my own family history in Yugoslavia. I am the grandchild of a wartime girl courier, the type celebrated in Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. My grandmother was to survive a prisoner-of-war camp where her father-in-law was starved to death, only to die in the ‘90s of a heart attack as once again she listened to the sound of bombing in Belgrade,” she recalls.
The film was recently shown in Kiev where it generated a huge amount of interest, and was followed by a showing at the Red Cross International Film Festival in Bulgaria, where people found it very relevant to their own reality. Two more festivals are confirmed so far: Montenegro and ‘Flahertiana’, the most important documentary festival in Russia. Having the film shown in both Ukraine and Russia would appear to be a success in itself. GOLOS is a story about Ukraine, as well as of Europe itself.
Born in Bulgaria to a chess champion mother, Dolya Gavanski was raised in several different countries during the fall of the communist regimes. As a child, until the age of 16 she lived and studied in Belgrade, Samarkand, Leningrad, and Moscow. She excelled at school and played piano from a very early age, competing at national level and performing at a major concert hall in Belgrade at the age of 10. She went on to train in acting in Moscow and London and educated at the University of Cambridge, after which she obtained a PhD on Russian theatre and culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Dolya writes and translates plays, as well as working as an actress. She has appeared with Steve Coogan and Michael Winterbottom in The Trip; Angelina Jolie InThe Land of Blood and Honey and in the Tom Stoppard play Rock N Roll directed by Trevor Nunn. Recent films include Our Kind of Traitor, starring Ewen McGregor, directed by Susanne White and The Lesson directed by Ruth Plath. Currently she is developing her BBC Radio 4 play The Russian Gambler, a modern day adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, into a TV series.
GOLOS: Ukrainian Voices will be released in the UK, in early 2016.
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