The residents of Chernivtsi have spent more than two years struggling to preserve the movie theater named after their famous fellow citizen. Early in 2010 the staff were the first to rise to defend their theater, when they believed that the new administration was pushing it into decay. Then the local media raised the alarm, and the administration did not dare take drastic measures (instead, they even repaired the roof of the building). However, at the close of that year they still decided to liquidate the movie theater as a legal entity, allegedly due to debt, and create the “Ivan Mykolaichuk Film and Art Center” instead. The local councilors even passed a decision to allocate over four million hryvnias for its reorganization and reconstruction. However, the money was never transferred. But it became known that more than 525,000 hryvnias was indeed spent for the revamping of the building and roof repairs. This is the money which was allegedly lacking to start the reconstruction as required by the draft.
In her comment on the situation with the movie theater Olena KALMYKOVA, member of the Chernivtsi City Council, is convinced that “Here a scheme is at work, by which a building is run into deterioration, and is subsequently sold or leased out to the ‘right people.’ On January 31 the plenary session of the Chernivtsi City Council will be considering a draft resolution on the approval of terms of contest for the right to a long-term (ten years, open-ended) lease of the premises at 140, Holovna Street (the building of the Ivan Mykolaichuk Movie Theater). The list of terms says that the leaseholder must repair the building at their own cost by 2016! The terms of contest also define the premises as ‘Ivan Mykolaichuk Center of Film, Culture, and Arts,’ with an ‘obligation to continue the showing of contemporary films, as well as the best heritage of national and world film classics.’ The fuzzy wording gives raise to doubt concerning the future of the newly-created ‘Ivan Mykolaichuk Center of Film, Culture, and Arts,’ including a movie theater accommodating several hundred viewers, since the resolution does not speak a word in this respect. Nor does it say anything about the purchasing of any up-to-date equipment for showing ‘contemporary films, as well as the best heritage of national and world film classics.’”
Oleksii KASPRUK, member of the Chernivtsi City Council, believes that “there are businessmen interested in these premises, since they are ideal for an entertainment center. This is why the local government is procrastinating with its reconstruction as a film and arts facility. We are going to propose to allocate funds for the reconstruction. According to the City Council resolution, it must be repaired. As for the draft resolution on the contest, we will demand that it be removed from the agenda.”
The Mykolaichuk family is also worried by the situation around the movie theater. The wife of the deceased film director, People’s Artist of Ukraine Maria Mykolaichuk says: “It is utter disrespect for Ivan’s memory. I have already pledged the Presidential Administration, and spoken with Hanna Herman and Larysa Skoryk. I urged them not to turn a blind eye to what is going on around the Mykolaichuk Movie Theater in Chernivtsi. If the local government is not doing anything to restore the theater, I, as the person in charge of the Mykolaichuk heritage, will demand that his name be removed from the official name of the Center.”
Now an initiative group has been created in Chernivtsi to preserve the Ivan Mykolaichuk movie theater. Its activists promise to monitor every step of the local authorities in order to prevent the destruction of the theater.