On Friday, January 2nd, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art for a screening of the documentary film "Maidan" about the civil uprising in Independence Square in Kiev that took place between December 2013 and February 2014 which lead to the ouster of the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Before we attended the screening we looked up several reviews of "Maidan" (which was quite popular at the Cannes Film Festival) and learned that its acclaimed director Mr. Sergei Loznitsa shot almost the entire film in by way of master shots that enabled us to watch things as they unfold thus creating the ambiance that we, the viewers, were actually present. There was no cutting or music to create suspense or emphasize a point. There was no central character or characters (only the Ukrainian people) and no voice-over narration for the entire 2 hours and 13 minute running time. We were very glad that we took the time to do research because we knew what to expect cinematically before we took our seats.
Afterwards, we spoke to several people who told us that they thought the film was drawn out and a little boring. We countered this viewpoint by saying that by watching the Ukrainian people objectively, we developed a familiarity with them and cared more about what they were going through. Plus, over the years we have gone to rallies and social actions so Mr. Loznitsa's technique helped place us in the activists' shoes and we wondered how we would have responded to the various happenings had we been there. Among the things that we watched as the people camped out in the square were the preparation of trays of food, people sitting around the fire to warm themselves in the cold night, a children's Christmas pageant on the stage that the activists put together in the square, and beautiful lanterns being created to light the sky. Once the police move in, acting under orders of the government, to disperse the crowd and the crackdown starts, we watch the often violent interactions as a voice over the loudspeaker urges the Ukrainian activists to get those injured to a makeshift hospital and whoever else is available to get to certain areas to provide assistance.
Overall, we found "Maidan" to be an exhausting but worthwhile experience. We enjoyed seeing several people there who were at the Holiday Party at the Ukrainian Museum and Archives in December. Among them was our friend Mr. Andy Fedynsky, Resident Scholar, who told us that in February, 2015, there will be an exhibition at the museum regarding the Kiev uprising and U.S. Senator Rob Portman is arranging for them to have a bench that was actually part of the barricade. Also in attendance was Lt. Sergiy Babskiy of the Ukrainian Army and his wife, Sanna. Lt. Babskiy was badly injured in a battle with the Russian forces and is here in Cleveland being treated at the Cleveland Clinic. Mr. John Ewing, Curator of Film at the museum, introduced Lt. Babskiy to the audience and he received an ovation. We asked him if he liked the film and he said that he did.
As we were leaving, we had a conversation with Mr. Zenon Krislaty and his brother, Mr. Ihor Krislaty who are both of Ukrainian descent and who both members of the Ukrainian Banduras Chorus which Ms. Margaret W. Wong has supported. They told us to be sure to express their appreciation to Ms. Wong and, of course, we told them that we would.
Once again, we would like to express our thanks to Mr. Dan and Ms. Debbie Hanson of Clevelandpeople.com for listing this screening in their calendar of events. We sometimes feel that we would be lost or at least in a constant struggle to find events that are representative of the diverse Cleveland culture without Dan and Debbie.