“I will seep into you and will live forever”. Premiere of “Myth” in Toronto
April 4, 2018
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When Vasyl Slipak died of battlefield injuries on the big screen, the King’s Garden Hall was silent. All 300 spectators watched as life of the world-renowned opera singer, who left his career in Paris to help his Motherland in difficult times, has faded. This was the last screening of the documentary narrative film “Myth” (front nickname of Vasyl Slipak) in Canada, which took place on April 1 in Toronto.
The idea of a film about Vasyl Slipak’s life belongs to directors Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasniy. As Vasyli’s brother, Orest, says, “when Leonid called me and offered to shoot a movie, I was a little surprised, because this was a tragedy, and someone wanted to shoot a movie. But then I talked more and more with Leonid and Ivan and realized that they had very good intentions.” The first screening of “Myth” took place on February 8, 2018 – less than 2 years after Vasyl Slipak’s death.
The film has had the most rentals in the history of Ukrainian documentary cinema: it was shown in all the major cinema networks throughout all major cities. At the end of 2018, it will be shown on one of the central Ukrainian television channels (ICTV). The film has been sent to international festivals and has already been shown in the USA, Italy and Canada. In Canada, the film was featured in 23 cities, from Quebec to Alberta. Soon, “Myth” will be available to the audience in Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and France.
It seems that Vasyl Slipak was made to have films created about him. Kanter noted that Vasyl was a very versatile man, who can become familiar to many in the audience: “If you are in immigration – you can say, “he is an immigrant, he is like us.” Very different people can find themselves in him – military personnel, volunteers, singers, artists, musicians”.
The artistic figure of Slipak made possible the combination of documentary material with animated cartoons, created by a Ukrainian cartoonist Yuri Zhuravel. Following Kanter’s idea, the animation in “Myth” enlivens the material, transforms a journalistic prose into an artistic work, and enhances emotions.
Before the screening, the directors explained that “Myth” is a movie about love. Vasyl Slipak personified love – he loved his life, friends, women’s beauty, parents, his homeland, his profession. Even when he lived in Lviv, he worked as a volunteer in a home for disabled children. He was not forced to be a volunteer, he simply handed himself over, as Kanter said. And people loved Vasyl – the directors talked to many of those who knew him during his life, took their love and soaked the entire film with it. According to Orest Slipak, the film turned out to be true, and Vasyl would have been pleased with it.
Kanter explained that he did not try to heroise Vasyl in the film, or to make him into an insurmountable cyborg. “We showed him like a man he was,” said Kanter. He was a man of principles and great patriotism, as evidenced in particular by the love story of Vasyl with a girl Lisa, with whom he broke up when she forced him to choose between love and Ukraine.
For those who did not know Vasyl Slipak, it was interesting to find out that, as a child, he was quiet and peaceful. Orest Slipak said: “He never fought, he was always obedient. I still do not understand how such a warrior came to be from this ‘nerd’. He has completely changed.” Such changes are shown in the film – Vasyl’s friends tell how it seemed that a fire broke out inside him; perhaps because in addition to the opera, he began to sing rock. Vasyl Slipak has learned to fight in a week, and his military brothers in the film say that it is not worth remembering him as a singer, but rather it is worth remembering him as a soldier. Maybe this was his true calling – as Vasyl himself said, “I play a role on stage, and in Ukraine I am real.” Vasyl‘s last words “I will seep into you and live forever” apparently were addressed to Ukraine.
The co-director of “Myth” Ivan Yasniy told the audience about Vasyl: “he was a merry man, there were always many funny and interesting stories around him. In the trenches at the front there are many animals and soldiers take care of them. In the last frames of the film, Vasyl is shown with a kitty, which he found and began to take care of. But when he died, the kitty was left alone. Someone wrote about it on Facebook, and Vasyl’s friends from France wanted to take her. Despite the bureaucratic problems in Ukraine, she managed to travel to France and over there she was named Vasylyna”.
At the end of the screening, Ivan Yasniy talked about Vasyl Slipak Foundation, whose mission it is to support Vasyl‘s memory. The Foundation has already created an archive of Vasyl Slipak at the historic museum in Lviv, where all his belongings are being stored. “We want his life to be available for generations to come. There may be new books, new films,” said Yasniy.
The second major project of the Foundation is hosting an international musical marathon named after Vasyl. The idea of this marathon arose spontaneously during the first anniversary of his passing. “Many of his friends – musicians, composers, conductors – wanted to come to Lviv and see where Vasyl came from. They arrived for three days and held concerts on different stages in Lviv, dedicated to Vasyl‘s memory and to all the fallen soldiers. From now on, the marathon will begin annually on the day of his passing, June 29.”This year it will open in Kyiv, in the large hall of the conservatory, which now carries Vasyl’s name.
The Foundation also launched a competition for young vocalists, also named after Vasyl Slipak, which first was held in Lviv last year. This will support young Ukrainian talents and give them access to the world stage, which will be a worthy continuation of Vasyl Slipak’s musical career.
The screening was organized by the “Dopomoha Ukraini – Aid Ukraine” organization.