This collection is personal.
I’m Ukrainian-Canadian. Ukrainian was my first language, I grew up in the Ukrainian community that included many activities and events that celebrated Ukrainian culture.
When I went to Ukraine for the first time when I was 15 years old, it felt like I was coming home. It’s a recognition that many in the Ukrainian diaspora have felt. In my case, my grandparents were forced to leave their homes as displaced persons after the Second World War, a journey that many other Ukrainians are facing today after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this past February.
Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora is a collection of films that tell Ukrainian stories by a group of talented Ukrainian filmmakers, either from the home country or from the diaspora. They set the stage for the current world state as well as show the resilience and vulnerabilities of Ukrainians and their continued fight for their own identity, language, culture, and freedom.
The films in this collection provide context, from the humour and struggle of everyday life to the 2014 Maidan revolution, followed by the 2014 Russian invasion, to the very history and culture of Ukraine and the identity of Ukrainians themselves.
It has never been more important to share Ukrainian stories. As long as we continue to share these stories, we continue to uphold the very Ukrainian identity and no totalitarian state, despite how hard they try, can ever destroy that.
I hope you enjoy this collection whether you are Ukrainian or not. After all, culture is a weapon. Even by watching these films, you become a part of the fight for sovereignty, self-determination, and for freedom.
Programmer - Natalie Semotiuk
Natalie Semotiuk is a Toronto-based creative professional and has worked in the film & theatre world for over 15 years. She received her Bachelor's degree in Twentieth-Century History from the University of Southern California, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from York University, and she received a certificate from the New York Film Academy as well as the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Education in Digital Marketing and Strategy Management. She has worked in casting, producing, and most notably she was the Producer of the Toronto International Film Festival's Rising Stars programme for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 festivals. Along with working with HighballTV, she is currently working on her feature film debut, a documentary about the Ukrainian opera icon, Solomea Krushelnytska.
If you are interested in offering support to Ukraine, please consider giving to the organizations listed here: https://linktr.ee/highballtv