Award-winning film co-produced by Ukraine and Italy puts work immigration into spotlight
“The Nest of the Turtledove” by Taras Tkachenko was awarded as best Ukrainian feature film at the 7th Odesa International Film Festival that took place on 15-23 July.
By telling a personal story – that of a Ukrainian woman who went to work in Italy the film brings in focus the phenomenon of Ukrainian female work immigration and opens a wide public discussion around this little-covered theme. “The Nest of the Turtledove” is also as a successful example of co-production between Ukraine and Italy.
The film is based on the same-name book by Vasyl Melnyk. [Trailer] In the center of its storyline is Daryna, a Ukrainian woman in her early 40s, who goes to work in Italy as a caregiver. Back home, in Chernivtsi region, she has a husband and a student-age daughter. Her compatriot finds her a job in the house of a separated man and his mother. As the story unfolds the senior lady’s attitude becomes less hostile, while Daryna and the Italian man become lovers. After two years of absence she is briefly back in Ukraine to discover she is pregnant.
“Migration for work purposes exists all across the world”, says film director Taras Tkachenko speaking after the film was premiered at the Odesa International Film Festival. Ukrainians know it firsthand. When shooting one of the film episodes in Chernivtsi region – a scene at the table, 18 local residents were involved, the film director continues. “When we asked if any of them had family members working abroad, it turned out 14 of them did,” Tkachenko said. The filmmaker noted that the book on which the film script draws is based on the story of the author’s daughter. The film’s main actress, Rymma Zyubina said she had also come across the real-life stories that helped her interpret her character, Daryna: “When I traveled to Spain I met a woman who had the same story as my character does. The only difference is she was ten years older.”
Film director Taras Tkachenko and main actress Rymma Zyubina receive the award for the best Ukrainian film at the Odesa International Film Festival
Taras Tkachenko is of the opinion that work migration is an international reality that Ukrainians might find hard to publicly accept due to the seventy years of life in a closed “jar” they had in the past. Tkachenko emphasized the exceptional role of the Ukrainian community working abroad, saying that it is one of the biggest investors into the county’s economy. “They are sending 14 billion euro per year to their country,” he said. In contrast to work migrants from other countries, for example Turkey, who make their families come and live with them, Ukrainians in Italy might be “working for 10 years and keep sending their money back home,” Tkachenko noted.
According to the film’s producer Andriy Suyarko at the preparative stage the film crew met the Ukrainian community in Genoa and filmed the interviews with some of the women. “The premiere about which I feel highest responsibility is the one in Genoa. The women of the Genoese community helped us with everything,” says Taras Tkachenko. “When the war in the east started these women who are earning 600 euro a month, and this money is what their parents and children live on, sacrificed and used this money to purchase a fully equipped ambulance car and passed it to the ATO zone,” the film director added.
The film was co-produced by Ukraine and Italy. The entity that supported the production of the film from the Italian side was the Genova-Liguria Film Commission. “We started talking to the Italian side in 2013, before the contract with the Ukrainian State Film Agency was signed,” says film producer Andriy Suyarko. The Italian side completely covered expenses for music in the film, it was written by Italian composer Stefano Lentini – author of a musical piece featured in Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster”. “The Genova-Liguria Film Commission also helped us get the necessary permissions and provided accommodation for the entire film crew including actors,” the producer adds.
From the Ukrainian side the production of the film was supported by the Ukrainian State Film Agency. Out of the film’s 16 million hryvnia budget 50 percent was provided by the Agency. “The Nest of the Turtledove” was being filmed for two and a half years and finished earlier this year. The film crew also noted that due to the death of the main male actor Vitaly Linetsky, the script had to be reworked. According to the film’s producer Volodymyr Filippov “The Nest of the Turtledove” will be on show across Ukraine’s cinemas from 10 November 2016. Distribution in Italy is something that is also being considered. A longer TV version is also planned, negotiations with TV channels are currently on.