The Toronto Ukrainian Film Festival screened three movies this week. It was a benefit to raise funds for imprisoned Ukrainian film maker Oleh Sentsov. One was Senstov’s 2011 film Gamer (Гамер). The second was Oles Sanin’s Поводир (The Guide). I made it to the third, a Sunday matinee. It was Anatoliy Mateshko’s The Trumpeter (Трубач), playing at the CineStarz cinema in Mississauga.
A group of activists and organizations have been screening films from Ukraine in Toronto since the EuroMaidan protests began last fall. They’re usually shown in small, independent cinemas, and have included a number of the Babylon 13 films. This week’s screening was sponsored by the Ukrainian Credit Union, Kontakt TV and UkrStream TV, and the Ukrainian Culture Festival.
“Enjoy the newest movies from Ukraine and help in the fight to defend human rights!” was on the latest poster that caught my attention. It also said that “all the money raised during the events will go to help Oleg Sentsov.” So I went.
The first person I saw in the crowd was Nastya, a friend from choir, with her two kids. As I looked around the movie theatre, I realized that most people had come with their kids. “I think this is the children’s feature,” I said apologetically to my mother, as we settled into our seats. “That’s OK,” she said smiling, “you’re my child.”
I had really hoped to see a film by Sentsov. But The Trumpeter had a nice message about following your dreams, overcoming life’s challenges. And it had a happy ending. As I hope will the case in the real life story of Sentsov.