• Interviews

Podcast: Ukrainian Documentarian Iryna Tsilyk – “It seems like we are inside of some nightmare”

As the world holds its breath watching Russia continue its assault on Ukraine, Ukrainian filmmaker Iryna Tsilyk talks to the Golden Globes Around the World podcast series about her gut-wrenching experience of discovering life imitating art.

The up-and-coming filmmaker won Best Director in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Category for The Earth is Blue as an Orange, following a single mother and her four children trying to live a normal life in the war zone of southern and eastern Ukraine that began eight years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.

“I was shooting real people who lived in those real conditions of war in my Ukraine but at the same time, I felt as a person who comes there with fresh eyes from some peaceful territory,” Iryna Tsilyk tells HFPA member and Ukrainian journalist Lena Basse. “I had huge empathy for all the people who live in the war zone but then I have been coming back home to my peaceful, relaxed Kyiv and what I realized now is if you don’t wear someone’s shoes, you will never understand what other people feel exactly.”

The filmmaker – whose two previous short films, Commemoration: Pomyn (2013) and Home (2016) were both nominated for jury awards at the Odesa Film Festival – gives an emotional account of life in Kyiv, where she’s trapped with her husband, author Artem Chekh, and 11-year-old son Andrii. “It seems like we are inside of some nightmare, and everything changes so fast from day to day,” she tells Basse.

But already she’s looking ahead to a time when she hopes filmmakers can bring healing to her country. “I already realized that the whole nation will be deeply traumatized and we will have to do something with that later when the war will be ended,” she says. “One day, we will tell stories about this weird, bizarre time….”