Donbas is a region in Eastern Ukraine that is currently recognized worldwide due to the fierce war with Russia for the accession of this territory into the "Russian world".
However, at the end of the 19th century, Donbas was the center of Belgian, German, French, British, and American settlements, and housed foreign entrepreneurs who built architecture, and enterprises, and introduced progressive technologies in this territory.
After the revolution of 1917, and the Soviet’s rise to power, the factories were taken from the European and North American settlers and nationalized, effectively destroying the memory of European history there. Since February 24th, 2022, Russian troops have been continuing in their efforts to sabotage these buildings of European heritage, finalizing what their ancestors did not have time to do during the Soviet Union.
The documentary film ‘Eurodonbas’ shows the foreign heritage of Mariupol, Lysychansk, Druzhkivka, and New York. The film team discovered and brought animated the unique, but lesser-known archival materials of Donbas during the 19th century. Experts, historians, and locals tell their tales and pieces of evidence about the region’s history, which was carefully destroyed and distorted by Soviet authorities who worked to erase the legacies of European entrepreneurs like John Hughes, Ernest Solvay, and Henrich Laude.
Unfortunately, these cities of Donbas and their European heritage as they were in the film will remain unseen. Soon after filming, almost all of them were destroyed by Russian missiles.
Kornii HrytsiukDirector2020#desertedcountry, Train 'Kyiv-War'
Anna PalenchukProducerNumbers, Askania Reserve, 2020#desertedcountry, Mariupolis, Close Relations, Eastalgia
Runtime:1 hour 13 minutes 47 seconds
Completion Date:August 22, 2022
Country of Origin:Ukraine
Country of Filming:Ukraine
Kornii Hrytsiuk, Ukrainian film director and screenwriter. He has been working in the film industry since 2011. He made several short and full-feature films that participated in international film festivals and were awarded prizes. Kornii also worked with commercials and social videos for businesses and NGOs. In 2016-2018 Korniy had been working on his independent feature debut film ‘2020#desertedcountry’. This was the first Ukrainian mockumentary about how almost all Ukrainians left their country. The film was presented at the Molodist Kyiv International Film Festival in May 2018 in Kyiv and then shown in Germany, USA/Czech Republic/Sweden. Hereafter, Kornii worked on his next film - documentary ‘Train: Kyiv-War’. This film was about passengers of a night train that connects Kyiv and a war zone in Eastern Ukraine. The premiere took place in August 2020 at 49 Molodist KIFF.
Currently, Kornii released his 3rd documentary - ‘Eurodonbas’ with the support of the Ukrainian State Film Agency (‘435 FILMS’ production company).
Besides, in 2021 Kornii created audio series about the Kurevivka mudslide in Kyiv, and the most popular Ukrainian football coach Valery Lobanovsky. These audio episodes were distributed at the MEGOGO streaming platform in Ukraine and became one of the most popular original audio series of MEGOGO in 2021.
2022 – documentary «EuroDonbass», Ukraine;
2020 – documentary «Train: Kyiv-War», Ukraine;
2018 – mockumentary «2020 #deserted country», Ukraine.
The first thing I wanted to mention, is that the best thing that happened to me and to all the film crew during the months of full-scale war, is that the film protagonist Iryna Badasen wrote the message from bomb-destroyed Mariupol that she’s alive after 138 days of the full-scale Russian invasion.
While watching this film, I realize that one-time Donbas, with these unique and breathtaking places, is almost vanished. While shooting this film year ago, I couldn’t imagine that soon the Russian rockets would fly to these places, and would be destroying priceless landmarks and civilian people.
I was born in Donetsk and lived there my entire life. Now, I couldn’t return to my native city for more than 8 years, because the Russian world occupied almost all the Lugansk and part of the Donetsk region and my home, and imposed Russian history and love to Putin.
‘Eurodonbas’ documentary shows, that the Donbas region isn’t connected with the Russian world, and is an integral part of European history, and was successfully integrated into European economic space.
We reveal this story through documentary protagonists, cities, and archival footage, which we animated for this film.
Meanwhile, Iryna Badasen stays in Mariupol and hopes for the de-occupation of the city by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and we are waiting for the screening of this film in different countries, to tell this story on the international level.
In our film, we show the unique European architectural pieces of Eastern Ukraine, such as the Belgian quarter of Lysychansk [eastern city of Ukraine], which won the Belgian [Royal] Prize for the best architectural heritage of Belgium abroad in 2018. However, the Russian troops have now leveled Lyshychansk to the ground, and on June 6, 2022, the Ukrainian president called it a dead city. So the main element of the film that will enhance the experience and interaction between the viewers and the world of the story, is the fact that the audience will oversee and witness the last shots of a one-time peaceful eastern Ukrainian city.
We also show interesting French buildings in Druzhkivka and German settlements in New York village.
Furthermore, we reveal unique photographs of these times. Likewise, we use modern graphics to visualize the key events of the past. Animated picture inserts from the archives allow us to tell about Donbas more accurately and clearly. Moving photographs-portraits of European capitalists & industrialists and Ukrainian workers are also used as elements of visual storytelling. This is the first Ukrainian documentary film that revealed and brought animated archival material to the big screen and uses it as a tool and creative approach that informs and shapes the narrative.
Along with speaking and following our protagonists and capturing picturesque landmarks of the region, we rethink, illustrate, and voice the real history of Eastern Ukraine that it ‘talks’ to the audience through time and space in real-time.