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"Ukrainian Sheriffs" in Prague
Director Roman Bondarchuk with the film characters: Victor Maruniak, Volodymyr Rudkovsky and Victor Kryvoborod’ko at the festival in PragueAll photos by Daria Averchenko
Director Roman Bondarchuk with the film characters: Victor Maruniak, Volodymyr Rudkovsky and Victor Kryvoborod’ko at the festival in Prague

Last week the documentary “Ukrainian Sheriffs” by our countryman Roman Bondarchuk was discussed at the Jeden svet/One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague, Czech Republic.

The authors of the film - director Roman Bondarchuk and producer Darya Averchenko - spawned its idea in 2011. The search of funding, shooting and editing took three and a half years.

The festival invited the main characters – the residents of Stara Zbur’yivka in Hola Prystan district Victor Kryvoborod’ko, Volodymyr Rudkovsky and Victor Maruniak. They saw the film for the first time in Prague.

The authors of the film - director Roman Bondarchuk and producer Darya Averchenko spawned its idea in 2011. The search of funding, shooting and editing took three and a half years.

“Roman kept all in secret to the very end”, the Chairman of Stara Zbur’yivka Village Council Victor Maruniak told. “We used to ask him: “Roman, how are things going on?” But he remained silent... There were two in Prague. First, to be honest, it was scary. We experienced the second screening quieter as the film turned out good, even sentimental. And judging the questions the audience reacted to it very well”.

Although, some question were rather provocative. Milos Zeman, an ex-Communist came to power in the Czech Republic. But the Communists, as you know, can’t be the ex.

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Sheriffs with Darya Averchenko under the Palace of the President of the Czech Republic: picket in support of Nadia Savchenko

The situation they have now is very similar to the situation in Russia. A lot of Pro-Russian propaganda. One young guy tried to prove that killing people is very bad, and we are killing people in the East of the country. And the old Czech commented on the episode where we refuse to take the summons from the recruiting office: “Why are you fighting, if the majority do not want to?” I contradicted: “Did all the Czechs go to protest in 1968, when the Soviet tanks entered Prague? Those who did were 20 thousand, – and they became your national heroes, and others are talking to their consciences”. The guy just paused and the old Czech even nodded his head. But most of all I was struck by the film. I've seen many documentaries but this one is special. Roman managed somehow to make a feature film, not a documentary. And it's not just our impression, there was plenty of talk at the festival”.

Stara Zbur’yivka – Prague
In November last year the film “Ukrainian Sheriffs” won a special jury prize in the main competition at  IDFA Amsterdam. Despite the high reward in Prague the authors worried even more than before the first screening in Amsterdam.

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Volodymyr Rudkovsky and Victor Kryvoborod’ko are walking along the banks of the Vltava

After screening complete strangers came up to them, clapped on shoulders and shaking hands with the words: “Sheriff – beautiful!”.

The most memorable event for Victor Maruniak was a meeting with his grandson. His daughter Natalia lived in Germany for many years, married, three years ago gave birth to son Kevin. Viktor failed to visit them as it was expensive and troublesome in regard with making a visa, and the village required permanent attention. Natalia couldn't come – the child was quite small. Just kept in touch via Skype. And when she learned that her father was invited to Prague, arrived there with the whole family. And Victor hugged his grandson for the first time!

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Victor Maruniak finally met with his daughter and grandson

Among all reviews in Prague the authors of the film and the characters were most struck by the words of the Commissioning editor ZDF/ARTE Reinhardt Loman from Germany: “In the Western world people appreciate money too much and therefore, there are few real feelings, and the world of Stara Zbur’yivkaI is full of warmth, mutual support and real life!”

Ukraine - the whole world
In Amsterdam during the award ceremony the IDFA jury said: “It is exciting and full of humour, this is a universal portrait of a community that is trying to restore the order among daily discontent and misunderstandings, and to keep peace through ingenuity, patience, and common sense.”

Traditionally the organizers of other documentary festivals from Australia to Burma come to to Amsterdam to select films for screening at home. And the film “Ukrainian Sheriffs” received a lot of invitations from other countries - Greece, Italy, Germany, Croatia and the Czech Republic. At the end of March it will be screened in Bucharest, at the end of April - in Canada.

In Ukraine the premiere will be held on March 26, during Docudays UA. In Kherson “Ukrainian Sheriffs” can be watched within the traveling festival in autumn.

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