• Festivals

Trying to Draw the Lights with Tina Karol

What a strange time we live in – in a world where the Cote d’Azur is abuzz with the 75th Cannes International Film Festival three hours away from a full-fledged war. Every day, movie stars from around the world present themselves on the red carpet in luxury clothing. And every day, newspapers give updates from the warfront in Ukraine. At the same time, we need to acknowledge how the festival organizers and attendees do everything they can to make their support of Ukraine clear. Before the screening of the festival’s opening film, the audience was addressed by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, spoke on the importance of freedom and how it important it is to the essence of artistry. As an HFPA member who was born and raised in Ukraine, I’m very proud of the fact that our organization has supported my country since the very beginning of the war, as did the Cannes Film Festival.

One of the co-sponsors of the American Pavilion alongside the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the online publication Deadline, hosted the Fundraising Night for Ukrainian Filmmakers on May 19. The attendees turned what could have been a somber night into a night of celebration for Ukrainian art, where Ukrainian filmmakers could network and promote their films as well as raise awareness about their country’s dire situation. Hundreds of guests found the time in their busy days between screenings, interviews, and meetings to show their support for people who are promoting their art during an incredibly difficult day. Most of them feel guilty to be on the beautiful coast of the Mediterranean Sea, far away from air sirens and among the world’s finest filmmakers.

Therefore, it was so important to hear the angelic voice from home, as the HFPA brought in Tina Karol, a very popular Ukrainian singer, as a surprise guest to perform at this event. The 37-year-old supports the Ukrainian people in her own way all over the world. She flew in directly from Japan to perform at Cannes, spreading awareness of the atrocities in her home country and asking for support abroad. It was especially touching performance, as it occurred on the national Ukrainian holiday of Vyshyvanka, in which Ukrainians wear traditional embroidered clothing to promote cultural identity and independence, ideas which are currently being attacked by Russian forces. Tina Karol fully embraced the spirit of the holiday, and attended the event in a floor length, hand-embroidered vyshyvanka.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching that beautiful, golden-haired woman sing a song she wrote before the war, which now has an entirely different meaning. It’s a song that connects with people all over the world, but most importantly with the people back at home in glorious Ukraine.

I must confess that I couldn’t hold back my tears when I heard the beautiful lyrics of this special lullaby:

I will draw you the lights of dawn,

Which fall from the sky at night…

I’ll fold that picture, and in the corner, I’ll write

That those lights are you.

I will draw you the sun,

Which shines through your eyes.

And when you see me, you’ll say that it’s yours,

That that sun is me.