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Night in The Garden of the Heavenly Hundred: a Meeting with Modern Ukraine

By the time Evgeniya Kuleba comes to meet us in The Heavenly Hundred Garden in central Kiev, night has fallen. Despite the first signs of spring, an icy wind has pushed the temperature down to -5 Celsius. Two years after the Maidan Revolution of 2014, that many refer to as the Revolution of Dignity, the…

Nick Barlay | 02/04/2016
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UKRAINIAN CINEMA DAYS: ‘The Living Fire’ (Kostyuk, 2014) reviewed by Nick Barlay

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The Living Fire is a documentary record of a dying light. In the highlands of the Carpathian Mountains, an entire way of life is fading, one that has sustained generations but whose extreme hardships are a deterrent to new generations. Ostap Kostyuk’s 2014 directorial debut, produced by the National Cinematheque of Ukraine and supported by…

Nick Barlay | 06/12/2015
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Grand Prix award-winner ‘Son of Saul’ (László Nemes, 2015) reviewed by Nick Barlay

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The opening moments of Son of Saul are blurred. Immediately, we are deprived of clarity, for the world of the film is uncertain, indistinct, disordered, chaotic. History, too, can seem out of focus. History is gone. It has passed. It belongs to another country in which things were done differently. It, too, is a blur…

Nick Barlay | 13/10/2015
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The Jews of the Ukraine and the Current Crisis (JW3 Jewish Community Centre), by Nick Barlay

‘There is no buffet-style international law.’ So says Dr. Thomas D. Grant, international lawyer and author of ‘Aggression against Ukraine’, a new book on the conflict from the perspective of a fundamental principle that has existed since World War Two. As Grant, ‘a lawyer by training and an academic by vocation’, puts it: ‘Post-1945, there…

Nick Barlay | 25/07/2015
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Remembering Srebrenica: David Rohde’s ‘Endgame’ reviewed by Nick Barlay

Twenty years ago, American journalist David Rohde came across a decomposed human leg. It was sticking out of the ground in a village in eastern Bosnia. The leg was one of the first indications to the outside world that rumours of a massacre were true. It was mid-1995 and the location of the leg, as…

Nick Barlay | 09/07/2015
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‘Pripyat’ (Geyrhalter, 1999), reviewed by Nick Barlay

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‘They call it the Zone,’ says Mr.Rudchenko, sitting beside his equally aged wife in their broken home in the middle of the Ukrainian town of Pripyat. ‘But does barbed wire stop radiation?’ His question, however, was no barrier to the couple returning to their life-long home in the so-called Zone of Alienation that runs for…

Nick Barlay | 15/05/2015
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Kinoteka 2015: ‘Austeria’ (Kawalerowicz, 1983), reviewed by Nick Barlay

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In a remote eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, near the border of the Russian empire, the local Jews are in flight. It’s the first day of the First World War and the Cossacks are coming. With the sounds of conflict rising on the breeze, several wagon-loads of Jewish families arrive at an…

Nick Barlay | 06/05/2015
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‘Hungarian Musical Life in the Shadow of Nazism’, reviewed by Nick Barlay

‘It’s not pretty,’ says Ágnes Kőry, Hungarian-born musician, teacher and researcher in historical musicology, to open her talk marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Hungarian Cultural Centre. ‘It’s not a happy story but it must be told.’ The story in question relates to Jewish musicians during that uncertain, troubled and ultimately murderous period of Hungary’s…

Nick Barlay | 25/04/2015