Not only does the Maidan have its music and paintings, but also its own cinema. Association Babylon‘13 emerged absolutely spontaneously during the first days of the revolt: directors, film critics, cameramen, who gathered all available equipment, settled in the Small Hall of the capital’s House of Moviemakers and started to make their own chronicle of events on the screen. They used the title of Ivan Mykolaichuk’s classical film Babylon XX.
The group shoots short films, from 20 seconds up to 6 minutes long, and uploads them to their own TV channel Babylon‘13 on the youtube.com. The videos include collections of momentary interviews with the protesters and short portraits (like of the Crimean Tatar Adil, who came to Maidan to cook pilaf). The black-and-white elegy miniatures about different protesters singing the hymn of Ukraine goes next to dynamic sketches of mass disorders, social ads, dedicated to the Human Rights Day, with the touching story how Maidan activists rescued an ill pigeon, a music video of the concert of Transcarpathian musicians Hudaki Village Band in front of police cordons – with enchanting 80 seconds of the night performance of a young pianist for current residents of the Mayor’s Office. All these, sometimes troublesome, sometimes witty and lyrical, miniatures show tens of faces and characters, making an exciting chronicle of the revolt.
The backbone of the group was created back in the time of working on famous almanacs Mudaky. Arabesky (F***ers. Arabesques) and Ukraine, Good Bye. I talked to the leader and co-initiator of all the three projects, director Volodymyr TYKHY.
How did the Babylon start?
“As soon as Mustafa Naiem rushed to the Maidan and organized first protests there. On the same night we decided that we are creators, so we must have a creative approach for the situation. There were different ideas, but on November 30, when students were dispersed and people started to gather at St. Michael’s Square, we simply understood that we had to take the camera and do something. We approved resolution, gathered equipment, got on a minivan, and arrived at St. Michael’s Square on November 30 and started to shoot the stories of people, who told why they came there – that was how our first film Prologue appeared. The result was wonderful, there was a feeling that Ukraine won a world football championship, i.e., something great, powerful, and at the same time unheard-of was going on. People came, having overcome themselves, their fear, and got a great impulse of adrenalin, so Prologue, though it lasts for only three minutes, is very rich and energetic. On the same day I agreed with Serhii Trymbach [head of the National Union of Moviemakers. – Author] about the premises. So we had headquarters and people started to come and bring equipment. I must underline that everything emerged absolutely spontaneously; people organized themselves on a voluntary basis. We uploaded the films on Facebook and youtube.com. We also involved – thank God, we have acquaintances there – the newly-born Hromadske television, which showed our works.
“We set certain tasks before ourselves. At the moment the television broadcasts only news, supplemented by commentaries of politicians and public workers. The total atmosphere is apocalyptical; the emphasis is being made on crisis spots, even on confrontation. The entire situation gets somewhat a one-dimensional, I would even say, negative coloring. But, vice versa, good things are taking place now. The society has woken up, it is shaping its own vision of itself, and acquiring self-respect, it has immensely lacked.”
How do you work?
“We discuss certain ideas, after which this project is realized or not realized for some reasons. The author comes, we talk, he takes some equipment with him, has some things with him. A director, a cameraman or several cameramen and directors go, so to say, to the field. They see something, film some stories, return and edit everything with a video engineer. Many plots are generated directly in the headquarters, in our group. By the way, we organize some things on our own, like shooting choir singing of girls for Berkut fighters.”
What do you have in result, speaking about the genre?
“These are artistic documentary films. Many materials were shot in Kyiv crisis spots. But this is not the extreme scenes we can see on the net, but more of chamber sketches – a somewhat more emotional, clear, and quality vision of the event, rather than simple fixation of the fact that someone beats someone.”
Incidentally, the fights. In your opinion, why are the protests this time quite aggressive?
“In fact, the level of aggression of our society is evident – it refers both to ordinary people, and those who work in task force. You see, this is a system. We feel it since the childhood years. It traumatizes and humiliates the person, and in response the person feels aggression, a desire to jump down throat. This aggression should be suppressed; we should prevent it from bursting into the events which will later be distributed in mass media and thus discredit the peaceful protest.”
What is your social utmost task?
“We want to give an impetus to people. The situation is developing in a crazy pace. I have been on Hromadske television, talked to the girl who helped create it – and she says that they planned things that happened on the television over three-four days only on the third year of its existence. Current political forces are simply business projects, people understand this, and there is a healthy process when society has woken up and it is no more infantile, but it wants to take the responsibility. So, our stories should show that society has woken up. Short films and interviews, it seems to me, have their effect. I will correct myself: we are not giving an impetus, we are trying to reflect on the situation and fix it, not to lose what we have.”
What will go next? What future do you see for Babylon‘13?
“We will be together till the end, like people in the Maidan say. As for me, reason has disappeared from the television, but it can emerge on the net where people see small stories made now and here and are addressed namely at the socio-cultural groups which have moved to the Internet. Internet-vision or something of this kind. The principle of our work differs from that of the TV. Our mini-series are, on the one hand, about something important which is driving people, and on the other hand – about their everyday routine, their thoughts and reflection. So, in my opinion, Babylon‘13 will give way to something more serious, like a feature film about the events, or will turn into an Internet channel, which will tell not only about the Maidan, but about the social life as well. On the whole, I see the future mass media namely like this.”
Speaking about the future in more general terms…
“I am optimistic about it. It seems to me, the Maidan is a logical thing. It should not be perceived as something exclusive. This revolution in the minds of Ukrainians is needed, so that the foam of grabbers and liars which dictated the worldview for our society disappeared, and many things will then get maybe not European, but at least more human format. It is wonderful that these events are taking place.”