The Orange Chronicles

This powerful documentary, years in the making, highlights just how divided this huge nation is between Russian supporters and those who favour closer ties to the West.

The Orange Revolution was not a revolution in dictionary terms. It was a revolution of will and resolve that changed a nation forever. As Russia-backed candidate Yanukovych emerged as winner of the presidential elections of December 2004, reports of corruption, falsifications and intimidations triggered a popular outcry. Millions took part in a protest that lasted over a month. In spite of the cold and risks involved, the Ukrainians stuck to their guns. This film tells the story of a people’s peaceful fight for true independence.

‘No one here is getting paid, we all came here for motivations from the heart. We must stand for 20 minutes, two hours or more… no matter how long!’ Demonstrators have gathered outside the Parliament. Suddenly, a tent city springs up on the streets of Kiev. ‘Finally people are awake. Ukraine has risen from her knees!’ The snow and freezing temperatures are not enough to deter a fast growing number of people of all ages. Hundreds of thousands rally to support candidate Yuschenko. Eating, sleeping, staying warm are challenges but these supporters are resilient and determined. They are making a stand.

‘Yuschenko, yuschenko!!’ Out on Kiev’s Square of Independence the crowd chants the name of the candidate who stands for a new Ukraine - free from corruption and foreign influence. The thirst for change is overwhelming. ‘I know that today a great evil is forming in my country to extend the power of the criminals in government.’ A roar of approval greets Yuschenko’s speech. ‘Every day we must have more people, people who are ready from morning until night to defend Ukraine’. People wave Ukrainian flags and orange banners, Yuschenko’s campaign colour.

Yanukovych supporters see it differently and a divide in the nation becomes obvious: ‘We were able to overcome the occupation of Hitler. We were able to overcome the occupation of the Stalin regime. And we are able to overcome the will of these parasites to destroy the Ukrainian state.’ His supporters are mainly found in Russian speaking communities in the East and South of the country.

Travelling around Ukraine with Orange campaigners, the crew documents surprising animosity and even violence. ‘Careful, they throw nails everywhere!’ Eggs and other projectiles are thrown at the cars. On the outskirts of Donetsk, Yanukovych’s home turf, the caravan is blocked entry by an angry mob. ‘Nobody is interfering with our election. Who are you to try and control us?’

The level of disinformation in those regions is shocking. One man spits out his hate of democracy and the US in particular: ‘They start fucking wars everywhere! Them and their fucking democracy!’ This violence is caused by a deep-rooted fear to cut off historic ties with Russia. ‘We live better than western Ukraine. Here, we’ve had more development. We want to keep the stability.’

Thankfully, dialogue prevailed and real violence was miraculously avoided. A new election took place and on January 20th, 2005, Viktor Yuschenko was confirmed the winner. The people in tent city were ecstatic. Change had won.


The Audience Award for Best International Documentary at Phoenix Film Festival
Best Feature Documentary at the Boston International Film Festival
Best International Documentary at the Garden State Film Festival
Honorable Mention at the Philadelphia Independent Film festival

FULL SYNOPSIS

The Producers

DAMIAN KOLODIY BIO

Damian Kolodiy is a freelance documentary producer, cameraman, and editor. His recent award winning feature doc on the Orange Revolution in Ukraine was screened in festivals across North America. He has also produced short pieces on Ukraine for both Voice of America and Current TV. Previous to his documentary work, Damian completed an indie feauture length sci-fi film titled «ill Generation». He is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, MA.

PETER ZIELYK BIO

Peter Zielyk is a New-York based Editor/Director. He spends his time in the chair working on a wide variety of projects, from music videos and commercials to documentaries and reality programming. He recently directed a 3D film for the St. Louis Children's Hospital and is supporting post-production on MTV's new reality series "College Life". Peter is also cutting feature programming for the newly launched MLB network.

Making The Film

I went to Ukraine knowing that the stakes were high, with a feeling that something there was building, but never expected the joyous explosive expression for freedom that resulted. I was amazed at the unification of people at that time, the level of community that existed throughout, strangers looking out for strangers, and that such huge mass mobilizations remained non-violent. For me, it reaffirmed some really positive things about humanity that seemed to have been forgotten. I came to Ukraine alone, but once there I quickly met new people every day who assisted me in trying to get this story out to the world. Through word of mouth I found an apt in the center to stay in which was key for me to be able to recharge batteries and prevent from freezing. I was given boots, a warm jacket, I survived off food that was distributed to all the demonstrators, one person bought me extra mini-dv tapes, another offered a shoulder fo rme to rest my camera on. I was given access to places and people, Ukriainians were very enthusuastic to share their thoughts and thankful that I was there to tell their story. It was an incredibly powerful experience!

Traveling to russified eastern Ukraine was an eye opener; seeing the divisions in interpretation of truth, the role that media plays in influencing perception, and how easy it is for Russia to exploit divisions in Ukraine. Russia continues to play the imperialistic aggressive neighbor, (ie the gas crises) and do whatever it can to thwart Ukraine's westward integration. Sadly, much momentum and positive energy has been lost since the Orange Revolution, but the power of those times was once in a lifetime. I hope the images that I am able to share here in this film will both inspire and educate about an event that was unique in its scope and revertebrated around the world. I hope that the film serves as a reminder to all of the power of people in pursuit of freedom.

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