Volodymyr Serdyuk (Actor)
Volodia, is this really the first time you have acted for film?
Yes, it really was my first time acting for film. First I worked as a translator for the Project, and then the producers offered me a part in such a wonderful movie!
How is that you seem to have captured your character so completely, so convincingly?
I am not able to explain it easily. I certainly couldn't have predicted it. Maybe it is because of my experience as a real bureaucrat, having worked both in the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and in the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. I witnessed and learned the behaviour of Ukrainian fat-cats there. Also, perhaps, my education in film criticism.
In the film, you play a man who once was a socialist working for the government, prior to independence, but who now owns many companies in Ukraine. Did that happen?
Very often. Almost all of the current business leaders in Ukraine were members of the communist party members in those days. And some of them are children of high position communist party managers. Gorbachov began to share the resources of the Communist party of USSR with those they trusted even before the USSR’s collapse. Among those trustee were not only communists but many non-party Government and Trade Unions managers.
In the west, the picture of Ukrainian history is very vague, and the picture of the Ukrainian present is also not in focus. Is Ukraine independent and free? Is it democratic?
Not yet. It is drastically dependent on Russia, especially in energy resources, not because we are poor of them (Ukraine produces more electricity power than can consume!) but because our actual leaders with their communist and KGB past cannot imagine any other partner than Russia.
History teaches us that only after several hundred years and several Wars did Russia give the right for full independence to Poland and Finland. New independent countries are still under the threat of being absorbed back by the same Russian empire.
We need more time. We just declared Independence and during the last 15 years it is still under threat.
Do all Ukrainians accept the reality of the famines during the 30’s, or is that still a contentious issue?
There are many people alive who survived the Great Famine (my mother, for example). None deny the fact. They are living witnesses. Also, we have documents from Russian archives opened during the "perestroika" period which, unfortunately, have now been closed again by the Russian Government. Actually, to be clear, there were repetitive waves of famines. The last famine took place in 1947, when all Ukrainian bread was sent to the German Democratic Republic, then occupied by the Soviet Army.
President Yushchenko accepts the reality of the famines. But many Government and local officials are the children of communist executives who placed Ukraine in the horror of starvation. They try to bury that part of our history.
You are also a published writer... What pieces of yours would you like us to be reading, and where can we get a copy of them?
About ten my plays were published in Ukrainian literary magazines, and dozens of my short stories. Twice I gained a prestigious Ukrainian literary Award "Coronation of the Word" with my play "Pension Affairs" and a film script "The Blood Test". One of my novellas "REODISCOVERY" is on the internet at the following address: http://www.abctales.com/node/546307
As a writer, what are the themes that interest you?
Love. Love is productive and it can save the World.
You have worked as a journalist and also a teacher. Can you tell us a bit about that? (maybe you can tell us about your recent book on ethics?)
During ten years of my life (1987-1997) I was a school teacher and during 6 years (2000-2006) I was a University professor teaching the ethics of journalism. I gathered my lectures and they have been published as a textbook recommended for all Ukrainian Universities and Departments of Journalism.
Is it true that you were a sailor for many years?
I was a turner in a factory (1973). Then I was a Soldier for five years in the Soviet Army (1974-1979) in the Far East (North Korea and China borders). After that I went to Sea. I was a mechanic on a fishing boat during another five years (1979-1984), net fishing in the Northern Pacific (Kamchatka-Okhotsk and Bering Seas).
What do you remember most about performing in the film?
The warm atmosphere and real multinational cooperation. It seemed that every actor was of a different nationality. That struck me strongly. Also, the absence of pressure and aggression, even though there was reason for anxiety, everyone trying new things, worrying about costs. The funniest thing I remember was when we were shooting the scenes in the Vancouver Sky Train. I was wearing my white suit, Stephanie was dressed hippy-style, and all the rest of the Crew were in jeans. The cameras and equipment were all hidden in big black bags. We filled the whole carriage. And then, at every stop, the Vancouver Police would suspiciously enter the train, stare at me, and then ask someone else, always someone else, if everything was okay.
Do you think the story is meaningful for Ukrainians?
Absolutely. We are now in the process of building the modern Ukrainian nation, and we are always looking for moral support. This is kind of a friendly look from the outside. We are all real in your movie. The story is told with skill and insight, which is why it works.
What do you miss about the production?
I miss Stephanie and Billy, the two main characters.. I miss the soft Ukrainian pronunciation on the beautiful lips of Stephanie, that Swedish girl who sings our old lullabies so beautifully. I miss Billy, always so serious, reading the grey solid book of Shevchenko poems. Such good actors! I want to act in a new movie with them!