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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Haidamak blockbuster

Money is being collected to turn Vasyl Shkliar’s Black Raven into a movie
2 December, 2010 - 00:00

On the initiative of Mykola Kulchynsky, legislator and head of the Prosvita society in Poltava region, a fundraising committee was established in the hopes of financing the filming of Vasyl Shkliar’s Black Raven novel. The idea of turning the novel into a film has been around for a long time already. Moreover, Shkliar’s newest book about the haidamaks of Kholodny Yar is literally crying out to be filmed. It has all the necessary ingredients: an exciting plot, battle scenes, love, detective elements, witty national humor and a deep patriotic accent.

“It is a ready scenario for an action movie,” Mykola Miroshnychenko, a Poltava book seller, says. Black Raven does not stay long in stock, he asserts, as people from various corners of the region keep coming to buy it.

“The novel is dynamic and modern in all aspects. After I read it I realized what a wonderful movie it would make,” Kulchynsky told The Day. “I started wondering how much it would cost, whether Shkliar would write the scenario. I started with calling the director Oles Yanchuk and the writer Mykhailo Slaboshpytsky. I told them about my idea, and later I heard that Shkliar did not mind filming his book. Thereby, we agreed to establish the fundraising organizational committee, and invited Serhii Trymbach, the head of the National Union of Cinematographers of Ukraine, Oles Donii, a lawmaker, and some other people. Black Raven impresses by the authentic description of the spirit of young people, who had a burning desire for freedom, for the good of Ukraine, and who remained patriots despite the failure of our independence struggle, what with Moscow conquering Ukraine and destroying half of our nation. I have never seen such novel before. It stirred up faith and excitement in me. So we wanted to spur the public into funding the shooting of this movie.”

The League of Ukrainian Philanthropists also supported this noble idea. The executive director Slaboshpytsky is convinced that they will manage to gather the necessary 20 million hryvnias (or 2.5 million dollars). Several people have already agreed to provide financial assistance. The approximate goal for this year is six to seven million hryvnias. The committee hopes that the diaspora will chip in.

It is worthy of mentioning that the initiators of the project do not rely on state support, especially the Ministry of Culture, as they fear that the film would be ideologically incompatible with the policy of the current government. Shkliar even made a joke about it: in the Truth of Roman Skrypin program on the TVi channel the writer claimed that if the lawmaker Vadym Kolisnichenko (Party of Regions) offered to finance the movie, he could play the part of a Ukrainophobe in it.

In general the members of the organizational committee are optimistic on account of their experience with cultural projects. Kulchynsky, for example, organized “Mazepa-fest” for eight years in Poltava. The lawmaker also managed to collect money for the Mazepa monument (sculptor Mykola Bilyk). (It has not yet been installed in the regional center because of the position of the former local government, and it is stored in the Khudozhnyk creative industrial complex in Kyiv for the time being.) Donii can be proud of his role in the realization of the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lutsk “Barykady,” “Independence Day with akhno,” and “Haidamaks.ua” literary and music events — all of which were made possible thanks to the support from sponsors.

The organizational committee is not only facing financial chanllenges but also ones pertaining to the making of the film itself, notably finding a director and leading actor. According to Vadym Skurativsky, the art critic, it is important that the gathered money go to the “right” director and the movie will be a “right” project for him (or according to Shkliar, it should be “one of his life’s great works”). People are now debating about the potential candidates. Thus, Skurativsky believes that Serhii Masloboishchykov, Oles Yanchuk, Oles Sanin and Taras Tomenko could film Black Raven. Some people think Jerzy Hoffman should do it, and some wisecrackers offer to invite Bortko so that he could rehabilitate himself for the frankly imperial version of Taras Bulba. Skurativsky is skeptical about the latter, “Bortko is a good director but he is not at that age or level of understanding to comprehend the idea of the movie. However it would be a nice slap in the face of Russian nationalism.”

By Serhii SHEBELIST, Poltava