ARTE film on Ukrainian artists and culture targeted by Russia’s war

ARTE produced a film on Ukrainian artists and culture in the context of the war with Russia. The film “Art, a weapon in times of war”, directed by Philipp Kohlhöfer, describes how Ukrainian artists defend their culture, which Moscow seeks to deny. 

“Art, a weapon in times of war” produced by ARTE and Philipp Kohlhöfer

Their resistance is expressed with fervor through their works. The film shows Ukrainian artists who changed their brushes and musical instruments for guns and surveillance drones.

Ukrainians surprised the whole world with their brave resistance in front of the full-scale Russian aggression. In times of war, art has taken on a new mission: more than ever, Ukrainian culture has become vital, primarily as Russia seeks to deny the very existence of the Ukrainian nation, ARTE says.

Therefore, the Russian aggressors attack not only civilian infrastructure, residential buildings, but also museums, theaters and concert halls. With passion, Ukrainian artists do not hesitate to retaliate through their works. 

Filmmaker followed Ukrainian singers, musicians, and painters who joined the army

Filmmaker Philipp Kohlhöfer accompanied Ukrainian singers, musicians, actors, and painters who joined the army and artists fighting the war on the cultural front against Russian aggression.

The film features Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, who shares her memories about the first days of the war and the impact of the war on the life of Ukrainians. 

Film features Khlyvniuk, Topolya, Bondarenko, Yermolenko, and Lebedynska

The filmmaker met Andriy Yermolenko, a famous Ukrainian painter, artist, and designer. He transforms his feelings into breathtaking illustrations of the Russia-Ukraine war and Ukrainian culture. The painter helps the army with these artworks, as funds from the sales are transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ needs. 

Many artists followed his example, describing Russia’s war and its devastating impact on broader audiences abroad through their artworks. And at the same time, thanks to the funds collected, they support the army, which defends the country from Moscow’s brutal invasion.

The film also features Andriy Khlyvniuk, a Ukrainian musician and the vocalist and lyricist of BoomBox. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he joined the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces. Shortly afterwards, he produced a recording of the first verse of the Ukrainian folk song “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow”, which became viral on social media. This time, this song is heard throughout the entire world in the ARTE film.

The film also tells the story of Taras Topolya, a soloist of the famous Ukrainian band “Antitila”, a youth ambassador for UNICEF in Ukraine, and a volunteer fighter of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine. 

The actress Vira Lebedynska shared tragic memories, as she was in the Mariupol theater when it was bombarded by Russians and destroyed. These dreadful images, broadcasted worldwide, are shown from a very personal perspective.

The ARTE film also features Moisei Bondarenko, musician, composer, a serviceman of the Ukrainian army, and Ukrainian artist Mykhaylo Reva, among others.

Cultural aspect of Russia’s war against Ukraine

The author of the film emphasized the cultural aspect of Russia’s war, as Moscow’s aggression targets the representatives of Ukrainian culture and the Ukrainian culture itself. It describes the tragic outcomes – museums, theaters, and monuments destroyed by bombardments.

The cultural aspect of the Russia-Ukraine war is explained by the historian, and expert in the history of culture and art, Ewa Sulek, from Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. She underlined that Ukrainian culture has much older traditions than Russian, while Moscow tries to deny its existence. Indeed, the Russian regime attempts to deny the very existence of Ukrainian culture while promoting its war propaganda through Russian artists and singers, including events in Europe.

Devastating damage to Ukrainian cultural heritage caused by Russia’s war

With each passing day of the fighting and Russian missile attacks, Russia’s war-devastated churches, temples, theaters, libraries, and other cultural sites. 

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture, Russia “consciously chooses” these targets “to achieve its primary goal – to destroy the centers of Ukrainian culture, Euronews reported. The ministry documented 800 hundreds of Russian war crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage. 

As of February 2023, UNESCO has confirmed damage to 241 cultural sites in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began – 106 religious sites, 18 museums, 86 buildings of historical and artistic interest, 19 monuments, and 12 libraries.

In one of the armed invaders’ mass looting of Ukrainian cultural heritage, Russian forces looted Kherson’s local history museum and art gallery before being forced to flee the city in early November 2022.

Several foreign media reports (ABC News, Politico, Bloomberg, New York Times) from the frontlines said that “culture was on the frontlines” and that Putin “seeks not only to control Ukrainian territory but to erase Ukrainian culture and identity.” 

However, Ukrainians withstood the violent attack and defended freedom and independence; the Ukrainian culture not only survived but became a trend worldwide.

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