Film director Oles Sanin, cameraman Serhii Mykhalchuk, and artist Serhii Yakutovych have worked on the film for a year. The basis of the plot outline is the historical event that took place in 1934, when more than 200 kobza players and lyrists were shot near Kharkiv. Main character of the film is an American businessman Michael Shamrock together with his 10-year-old son Peter comes to Kharkiv to exchange a tractor for grain, because at that time there was a crisis in the United States. Here he gets recruited and decides to stay in Ukraine. After some time he somehow gets hold of some secret documents about the repressions in Ukraine and gets killed. However, Peter escapes with the help of a blind bandura player Ivan Kocherha. The boy becomes the blind man’s leader. In winter of 1934 blind Kocherha was executed along with other kobza players near Kharkiv. Peter remains the only living witness of the tragedy. The film is starring Stanislav Boklan (as kobza player Kocherha), American actor Jeff Barrel (as businessman Michael Shamrock), and Anton Sviatoslav Grin (as Peter Shamrock).
The film was a center of attention for a long time and in the past year one could easily keep track of the events through social networks, where the actors shared their impressions and photos from the set. Along with professional actors there were amateur actors starring in the film as well. Ordinary blind people that were selected for filming in several Ukrainian cities played blind kobza players. Among the film characters there is Kyiv-based lyricist kobza and bandura player Taras KOMPANICHENKO. The musician had strong impressions from shooting in the film. “One day they put special lenses in my eyes and I became blind, got into those men’s shoes. It is a very powerful and frightful experience,” Kompanichenko told The Day. “Then I met blind amateur actors. I was shocked at how socially active these people are. I met Oleksandr Tryus from Romny. When he was treated for blindness, the surgeon told him: ‘There is hope.’ To which he replied: ‘I do believe.’ This is the philosophy of blind bandura players in those times, who sincerely believed that God would heal them from blindness and simply did their job well. These people are a wonderful flower garden: historian Serhii from Zaporizhia, male nurse Hrytsko from Lviv, musician Orest from Lutsk, Volodia Noskov – an amazing radio journalist, who jumped with a parachute, climbed into caves, went to Tehran on his own for receiving an award for the best radio report, Vitalina from Kharkiv – composer and band leader, as well as many other wonderful people…”
Taras Kompanichenko noted that the film has not yet been released but has already played an important social role – it brought together different people and made them friends. The musician told that there was easy and friendly atmosphere at the filming set even though the shooting was not so easy at times. Assistant director Olha HODOVANETS also wrote on her Facebook page that it was “incredible shooting.” “Filming brought together some very talented people who felt so close in spirit,” Hodovanets wrote in a comment to the news of the end of filming. It was her job to meet with many blind people in Lutsk, Lviv, Rivne, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Donetsk, and Kremenets and offer them to try themselves in episodic roles. “They were teachers, mostly history teachers, musicians, there was a radio journalist Volodymyr Nosov, whose radio report about the shooting of kobza players won the first prize at Tehran Festival of Documentary Programs. There was also Volodymyr Petrovsky, head of the All-Ukrainian NGO ‘Ukrainian Union of People with Disabilities Capable of Working,’ winner of Paraolympic Games, judoist Ihor Zasiadkevych, and many others,” told Hodovanets.
“It was interesting for me to see how the film plot reflects, on the one hand, the past, and, on the other, is quite modern. Modernity of this scenario is that it combines the worlds,” summed up Kompanichenko. Judging from the reaction to the news on social networks, Ukrainians are looking forward to seeing this film.