Polish film director and producer Krzysztof Lukaszewicz came up with the idea of making this movie after reading an interview with Belarusian opposition activist Franak Viachorka who was forcibly conscripted into the Armed Forces of Belarus by the authorities despite having been found medically unfit.
“Viva Belarus production is a kind of experiment which succeeded by a miracle,” Mr Viachorka who became a co-author of the film’s scenario says. “Hardly anybody put their faith in us; a lot of people said nothing would result from our efforts”.
But the first feature film about political realities of present-day Belarus is to take part in European film festivals; its premiere screenings took place in the Czech Republic. By the way, the members of the judging panel at Fabiofest film festival were watching the film with tears in their eyes.
Belarusian audience met the movie with a mixed reception. The target group’s ambiguity triggered criticism: on the one hand, Viva Belarus was expected to make Europeans consider Belarusian issues more thoroughly, on the other hand, Belarusians wanted the regime’s crimes to be shown in the film.
Being twitted with exagerrations in the film Franak states it was impossible to do without bright visual symbols which would be associated with Belarus: “The movie does have hyperboles, but after all, it is a feature film! We live here and often ignore a lot of things: red-green flags at every turn, Lukashenka’s portraits in every office, monuments to Lenin in squares, violence and cruelty in everyday life. We have “condensed” that reality of Lukashism. Our aim was to show to our viewer that the action comes not in Tyumen, not in Moscow or Donetsk but in Minsk, Belarus where officials are driving Mercedeses and provincialists are sliding into poverty”.
All scenes of violence were derived from day-to-day realities of the Belarusian army: for example, epidemies of scabies and swine flu broke out when Franak Viachorka was doing his service in Mazyr military unit. The episode of a recruit’s disappearance might well be put down to numerous suicidal events among regular soldiers in Belarus.
Some viwers were disappointed at Polish actors’ involving in the film. But this was determined by the drive to attract average Poles’ attention and take them into the twists and turns of the Belarusian problematics.
“No man is a prophet in his own land”
Film critic Andrey Rasinski believes that the Belarusian democratic community is sure to take note of the discrepancy of the Belarusian reality: “The film is likely to be evaluated on its merits in 20 years after the regime collapses. Now viewers’ attention will focus on destroyed Mazyr, bald children and billboards with Lukashenka’s portraits throughout the country”.
The film is not intended to solely perform an international mission of reducing entropy towards Belarus, the expert stresses. Viva Belarus sends a clear message to a certain part of Belarusian society: “People who remain indifferent to the political situation might well be touched by the movie; without doubt, it will knock them cold”.
In Poland the premiere screening is to be held on April 17. After being shown at the cinema festivals Viva Belarus will appear on the Internet.