Yuliia Hontaruk

Film Director · Documentary Series

My motivation for my project “Fortress Mariupol“

I was in contact with the men and women at Azovstal all the time; they kept texting me.
I started recording my video calls through WhatsApp as they had no other way to call me. It was something unbelievable to me.
Two days before, they said Kirt (the commander of the company I had filmed) was killed, but then he would write to me, “Yuliia, I am ready to make a call”, and I go breathless that the person is alive and I have an opportunity to ask how they’re doing out there in that hell. Calls to Nava and the boys became longer and longer. My first conversation with Kirt lasted 40 minutes, with Orest – 2.5 hours, with Tavr – 3.5 hours. At the end of our call, Orest told me, “Thank you, Yuliia. It feels like I’ve just had a talk with a therapist.” And he smiled. I thought if I could help them at least in that manner, it’s a really great thing, and I have to make this series primarily for them and for all the Ukrainians so that they would know and always remember.

How do you plan to use the scholarship?

Currently, I have zero financial capacity, either to sustain myself or to create the series. I need to travel to film the families of Azovstal fighters; I need money for equipment, travel, and fuel. The footage also requires editing. If I received the grant, I’d be able to provide my essential needs and could share the money with other filmmakers who would be working on the series with me (including editors, sound directors etc.).

Of course, some part of the scholarship would go towards my living expenses, but most of the money would be used to buy hard drives to collect and archive material, to create a backup of the material that has already been made and for future storage. I would use this money for work trips, equipment rental and cameraman technical support. Currently, there is already an understanding of several work trips, for example, to Brodyaga’s wife and Alina’s girlfriend and Liza, Krama’s wife. It is necessary to go to the boys in the hospital in Vinnytsia and Dnipro, who have returned from captivity and were wounded. It is important to document their stories for the series and save their memories of what happened in Mariupol.

I am one of the founders of the creative union ‘Babylon13’. We have filmed the revolution and war since their early days, and now we are actively filming the full-scale war in Ukraine and its consequences. We work as volunteers and have no salary. That’s why this grant is very important to me and this film’s protagonists, this generation that defends Ukraine, so that it can remain in history forever as evidence of their struggles, so their stories won’t be forgotten.

Instagram · facebook · IMDb

Yuliia Hontaruk