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Memory Wars on the Silver Screen: Ukraine and Russia Look Back at the Second World War

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
UW Allen Auditorium

Lecture by Professor Serhy Yekelchyk of the University of Victoria

Under Putin’s rule Russian cinema has engaged in a well-funded mythmaking
effort aimed at re-establishing the old Soviet image of the Great Patriotic War
as the foundation of the new official memory, and many of the latest Russian
war films pointedly include negative Ukrainian characters. For years, however,
the nearly moribund Ukrainian film industry has not been able to produce a
successful answer to the spate of Russian war films – a movie that would
engage the opponent by using the same tools of mass culture. It was only in
2012 that Mykhailo Illienko in his Firecrosser found a way to link new and old
myths of the war in a film crafted in the Hollywood tradition and with elements
of fantasy. Often called “the first Ukrainian blockbuster,” this movie found its
way into the mainstream film distribution system and was even released in
Russia (on DVD and television). In this talk, Prof. Yekelchyk aims to make
sense of this success story by positioning it in the context of post-Soviet
memory struggles and global cultural trends.

Organized by the Ukrainian Studies Endowment Committee
Co-sponsored by: The Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures and REECAS