It’s not an easy film to watch, says Tymur Yashchenko of his debut feature

‘U311 Cherkasy’ is based on the true story of the crew of the Cherkasy resisting seizure by Russian forces

Updated - March 12, 2020 04:02 pm IST

Published - March 12, 2020 03:58 pm IST

“It is not an easy film to watch; it’s not for everyone. The highest mark for me as a director is when people either love or hate the film,” says Tymur Yashchenko, of his debut feature, U311 Cherkasy , which was screened at BiFFes. Tymur had earlier made the short, Lev , a prologue to U311 Cherkasy .

Based on true events, the film follows two men, Mishko and Lev, serving on the minesweeper Cherkasy. The crew of the ship resisted seizure by Russian forces during the annexure of Crimea in 2014 before ultimately being captured. It was the last Ukrainian military vessel in Donuzlav Lake, Crimea, to be seized by the Russian Navy.

The affable Tymur sat down with MetroPlus for a chat.


What inspired you to make this the subject of your first feature?

I think I received the energy after the Revolution of Dignity (2014) when we kicked out President Viktor Yanukovych. That energy was just waiting for realisation. Then I read that the Cherkasy was resisting in Crimea. I’m from Cherkasy, it is my hometown. I started checking and became interested in this story about the ships being blocked and resisting. I watched a one-minute YouTube video that sailors from another ship had put up one day before the Cherkasy was seized. The sailors are holding sticks and singing a hymn of the Maidan (the resistance). I saw how the sailors looked, they were fighting and singing. It is really Ukrainian to fight and sing (laughs). When I watched the video, I clearly felt that this has to be my debut.

What do you hope will be the audience’s takeaway?

The film is about self-identification. It is not political; politics is in the background for me. I was trying to show the collective image of the Ukranian Navy but I went much deeper and tried to show a portrait of Ukraine. It is just a lot of my love, a lot of my support and a lot of me as a Ukrainian.

Have you watched any Indian films? What is your opinion of them?

When I was young, there were a lot of Indian films on Soviet television and I was in love with commercial films like Seeta Aur Geeta. Indian films are very honest; I appreciate the passion, the music and the songs. And I love Indian culture; it is very similar to Ukraine. We also love to sing and we are also emotional people.

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