The film is an intimate look at the war and revolution in Ukraine through the eyes of ordinary people who risked their lives to create a more democratic, independent country. Their lives were transformed by the tumultuous revolution on the Maidan, the Russian annexation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine that has killed over 10,000 people and left 1.9 million refugees.
Interview with Writer/Director Mark Jonathan Harris
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made this film because I think the Maidan revolution and the war that followed in Ukraine are important events that many people in the West don’t really understand. I also was very happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with the esteemed Ukrainian director Oles Sanin, as well as my talented co-writer Paul Wolansky, with whom I’ve worked before. Both Paul and I strongly identified with the Ukrainian battle to wrest power from the autocrats and plutocrats who controlled their government.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It’s clear that the outcome of this struggle affects not only the future of Ukraine, but the future of democracy in Europe as well as America.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
From my earliest days as a filmmaker, I’ve been drawn to stories of people battling injustice and oppression. The first significant documentary I made, Huelga!, chronicled the grape strike in Delano, California, and Cesar Chavez’s efforts to win the right of collective bargaining for farmworkers.
I saw then how powerful it can be when people join together to transform their lives. The same transformation took place during the Maidan Revolution and the war that continues today, despite the ceasefire agreement that Russia continually violates.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The film has tried to keep pace with the rapidly changing events in Ukraine and America.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film has been extremely well received. It’s won the Best Documentary Feature awards at both the Et Cultura Film Festival and San Luis Opisbo International Film Festival. Interest in the film has increased dramatically since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. It was also very positively received in Ukraine, where it was broadcast on national television.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
What has surprised me is how much interest in the film has been sparked by Russia’s meddling in our presidential election and the allegations about Trump’s collusion with the Russians. We finished the film in the summer of 2016 when it was just becoming clear that Donald Trump was a serious candidate for the presidency. One of his chief advisors was Paul Manafort, who had worked for the corrupt President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to flee the country after ordering his militia to turn their guns on the protestors, murdering 123 of them.
It quickly became apparent that not only does Trump have a close relationship with Putin but he has little knowledge about the annexation of Crimea, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, or prior U.S. commitments to the country. What is also clear now from Trump's election campaign and his transition to the presidency is that one of the common strategies he shares with Putin is his use of disinformation and lies to deflect and confuse his opposition. He could be following the Russian playbook in his use of Twitter.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We hope to bring more attention to the film
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We are still looking for national television distribution in N. America.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I’d like the film to increase awareness of the threats to democracy throughout the world and how propaganda and disinformation can distort and erode the democratic process.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why hasn’t there been more attention in the U.S. to the invasion of Ukraine? Why haven’t people recognized the significance of what’s happening there?
Interview: March 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine
The film is an intimate look at the war and revolution in Ukraine through the eyes of ordinary people who risked their lives to create a more democratic, independent country. Their lives were transformed by the tumultuous revolution on the Maidan, the Russian annexation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine that has killed over 10,000 people and left 1.9 million refugees
Length: 98 minutes
Directors: Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin
Producer: Maxim Asadchiy and Peter Borisow
Writers: Mark Jonathan Harris and Paul Wolansky
Mark Jonathan Harris has made three Oscar-winning documentaries. He is also a Distinguished Professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, where he heads the documentary program.
Oles Sanin is the director of The Guide (2014) the highest-grossing Ukrainian language film in Ukraine’s history. It was nominated for the Grand Prix at the 2014 Warsaw International Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the 2014 Odessa International Film Festival. It was also Ukraine’s official entry for the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
Paul Wolansky co-wrote The Guide. He is an Associate Professor at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, where he teaches all levels of screenwriting
Looking for sales agents and distributors
Made in association: MP2 LLC and Pronto Films
Appearing in April at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs and the Annapolis International Film Festival