The Ukrainian information space does little to cover topics pertaining to national history. Thus, almost any short news report becomes an event, to say nothing about a real documentary film. That explains why the Kyiv Cinema House, where the documentary by Roman Koval and Oleksandr Dombrovsky Yurii Horlis-Horsky was recently screened, was so crowded. It was even necessary to move the event from the smaller Blue Room to the bigger, red one.
The movie is about the life and work of the author of the legendary book Kholodny Yar, the political prisoner, clandestine agent and master sergeant of the Ukrainian People’s Republic’s army Yurii Horodianyn-Lisovsky (a.k.a. Horlis-Horsky).
Horodianyn-Lisovsky was born in Poltava region. His father was a master sergeant in the imperial army and his mother originated from a noble Polish family. He took part in the World War I. When Yurii was 20, he joined the Ukrainian People’s Republic army and became cavalry master sergeant of the second united Zaporizhia regiment during the National Revolution. At the beginning of February 1920, during the winter campaign, he found himself near Kholodny Yar, together with the Zaporizhia division. He fell ill and had to stay in the Motyn monastery for medical treatment. The spirit of Kholodny Yar captured Yurii. Having adopted the pseudonym of Zalizniak he stayed there as Cossack captain of the first (main) garrison of the regiment of the Kholodny Yar Haidamaks, and became a faithful assistant to the garrison ataman Ivan Petrenko and the Head ataman of Kholodny Yar Vasyl Chuchupaka. In the spring of 1921 Yurii went to Lviv and in 1922 he returned to Bolshevik-occupied Ukraine and was imprisoned. After being released, he worked in the State Political Governing Bodies and participated in clandestine anticommunist work. He started writing in Lviv. In 1933 he published his first book Ave dictator! His best known book is the novel Kholodny Yar. On October 9, 2010, in the village of Melnyky, the former “capital” of Kholodny Yar, a monument to Yurii Horlis-Horsky was unveiled. It bore the following inscription: “Kholodny Yar is alive and knows who is a friend and who is an enemy.”
Yurii Horlis-Horsky is the sixth documentary by Roman Koval shown on the Culture channel. He is the author of eight documentary films in total.
“We don’t learn anything from history’s mistakes and we don’t want to analyze them,” says Roman. “Some people denounce me for showing Petliura from a critical perspective. They say, what will we do if you take away Petliura? This approach is absolutely unscientific. Do we want to see them as we wish they were, or as they really were? We successively repeat the mistakes of the past, so now we face the corresponding consequences.”
The film Yurii Horlis-Horsky reproduces interesting historical scenes. The role of Horlis-Horsky is played by Vladyslav Kutsenko, and the twelve-year-old Taras Dunsky plays the role of a young Yurii. Owing to the military-historical clubs of Kyiv and Kamianets-Podilsky, which agreed to take part in the film, we can better imagine the events of the liberation struggle.
The film was shot in different locations: Kholodny Yar, Melnyky, Matviivka, Rozumivka, Tsybuleve, Chornoliska (at the Buda farm), Kyiv, and Kyiv region.
The film also uses authentic newsreels from the World War I, the Liberation War of 1917-21, the Second Rzeczpospolita, the USSR, the World War II and photos from Yurii Horlis-Horsky’s private archives.
The soundtrack was created by several Ukrainian musicians, including “Khoreia Kozatska,” (well-known to The Day’s readers), Taras Kompanychenko, Taras Sylenko, and the kobza player and multi-instrumentalist Oleskii Kabanov.
“The film’s presentation was impressive, not only because of the number of people who visited this event, but also the emotions that the film excited,” the kobza player Taras Sylenko told The Day. “This film was a discovery for many people. It can be compared to a pure, bottomless source in the middle of a desert. The audience was so heterogeneous: children, students, adults and elderly people. This allows one to draw an analogy with the times described by Horlis-Horsky in his novel. At that time not only the Cossacks, but also young and old people rose against the injustice and disharmony in their motherland. It was a natural reaction, so to say. Just as any living organism the people tried to get rid of what was alien. Now we feel a moment approaching when we’ll all feel ourselves a real nation and we’ll one and all accept the challenges of our time.”
The film Yurii Horlis-Horsky has been broadcast on the Culture channel several times. However, the screening on February 11 was the first public viewing. We hope that, according to the film authors’ plans, people throughout Ukraine, both in Lviv and Donetsk, and the audience of the Ukrainian Film Club at the Colombia University will also see this film.