The Yarra Ranges Film Society pays tribute to Ukraine

Festival organiser, Keith Wade, Tatiana Zachariak and husband Roman and Yarra Ranges Film Society president Vivienne Bond. Picture: SUPPLIED

by Tanya Steele

The Ukrainian Film Festival hosted by the Healesville Mini Film Festival and Yarra Ranges Film Society (YRFS) was a great success, with each of the films rated highly by the audience.

Keith Wade, the festival organiser said he was pleased with how well the day went and was glad the audiences appreciated the Ukrainian cinema experience.

“The three films we screened for the day were very well received,” he said.

“It was certainly one of the best Healesville Mini Film Festivals since its inception in 2015 and the staff of The Memo bent over backwards to help keep the program going on the day.”

Association of Ukrainians Victoria (AUV) board chair Tatiana Zachariak gave a powerful and passionate talk about the situation in Ukraine today before the festival began.

“Russia’s been attacking Ukraine for 400 years, it’s history, culture, everything and now it’s children as well,” she said.

Ms Zachariak has Ukrainian heritage and her partner is also Ukrainian.

AUV represents the Ukrainian Australian community in Victoria and there are over 60,000 people of Ukrainian descent in the country , the majority of which live in Victoria.

The films screened at the festival were Home Games, Mr Jones and Olga.

The second film, Mr Jones, scored a record high approval of any film shown in the nine years the festival has run.

The film was set in the 1930s and tells the story of Gareth Jones, a journalist who travels to the Soviet Union to uncover the truth about Holodomor or the artificial famine in Ukraine where millions died.

Ms Zachariak spoke about the famine in her opening speech.

“My grandmother, and my mother’s sister had two brothers, her grandparents, they all died in the artificial famine in 1933,” she said.

“People know about the Holocaust but there are a few people in Australia who know about the artificial famine when Russia was sending wheat overseas.”

The two afternoon films were separated by an extended afternoon tea, local bakers made Ukrainian style cakes that were enjoyed by the patrons.

The proceeds of the festival will be donated to the Association of Ukrainians in Victoria and Ms Zachariak is grateful for the support and exposure but worries about the years to come.

“We’re talking about the potentially catastrophic situation in Ukraine where 14 million people have fled, and that is almost a third of the population of Ukraine,” she said.

“Any opportunity that we could get to speak we’re very grateful for.”