GOLOS: Ukrainian Voices is a powerful and emotive documentary about Ukraine today. It has been 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. Whatever their location, age, education, ethnic and economic backgrounds, they share their remembrances far from the cacophony of political voices and mass media.
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 they 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 sometimes 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 war time girl courier of the type celebrated in Hemingway’s For whom the Bell Tolls. My grandmother was to survive a prison of war camp where her father in law was starved to death, to die decades later, in the 1990s, of heart attack as she listened again to the sound of bombing in Belgrade.” she recalls.
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.
GOLOS: Ukrainian Voices will be released in early 2016. But until then, stay tuned as Dolya will join me to discuss more in depth the documentary.