On February 25, the day after Russia launched an all-out assault on their country, Ukrainian filmmaker Antonio Lukich and his crew rushed around Kyiv.
The team finished filming Luckich’s second feature, luxembourg, luxembourg, and the content is scattered on hard drives in different locations throughout the capital of Ukraine.
“We literally saved the material,” said Lukich, in an interview with CBC News in Toronto.
It was the beginning of a months-long journey for the filmmaker, who vowed to keep his family safe but determined to finish his project in time for its world premiere at the Film Festival. international Venice in early September and theatrical in North America. at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.
TIFF made the decision earlier this year to ban all state-funded films from Russia. As a result, no Russian films entered the festival – but there are program dedicated to introducing Ukrainian filmmakers.
Luxembourg, Luxembourg tells the story of twin brothers, played by rappers Ramil and Amil Nasirov, who grew up in the shadow of their absent father. When they receive news that their father is dying in a Luxembourg hospital, they embark on a trip from Ukraine to see him.
Movie ‘really gave us hope’
“It has been an incredible miracle for us that we have completed the film and now have the opportunity to present it to an international audience,” said Lukich.
In the days after the start of the war, the post-production of Luxembourg, Luxembourg pauses indefinitely when the group splits. Some joined the war, while others fled the country.
Like millions of other Ukrainians displaced by the war, Lukich also left, taking his wife and three-year-old son westward to his homeland of Uzhhorod, near the Ukraine-Slovakia border. Finally, they reached Slovenia.
About a month later, he returned to Kyiv without his family, determined to finish the film.
“That movie gave us hope for life literally,” says Lukich. “We felt it was our mission … because we’ve been doing it for three years and know the film’s potential.”
Movie about parents away from home
Luxembourg, Luxembourg was inspired by Lukich’s relationship with his late father, from whom he was estranged.
“When he passed away, he left me with an immense emptiness,” said the director. “It’s the main fuel [for the film] – to find out who made me. “
14:40Ukrainian director Antonio Lukich about Luxembourg, Luxembourg and making art in the middle of the war
Lukich’s vision of his feature further crystallized after the invasion of Ukraine began and he saw thousands of people join the army.
“It’s a movie about absent fathers. War doesn’t just destroy buildings; war also destroys families,” he said, referring to the generation of men who died during the World War. second world.
“Now, we will have to face [again] With a large generation of absent parents, that’s really sad. ”
This is why Lukich says he hopes his son won’t remember the day the air raid sirens went off and he hid under the table.
It’s also why he’s trying to draw attention to the impact of war when he and his cast hit the red carpet in Venice earlier this month.
While there were several Ukrainian-focused films at this year’s TIFF, Lukich was the only Ukrainian director to show his film while attending the Toronto film festival.
“I’m a privileged man,” he said. “Friends and people I know are unlikely to appear in such beautiful places.”
Now that the world has seen his film, Lukich hopes to finally bring Luxembourg, Luxembourg for audiences at home.