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Ukrainian filmmaker says fighting ‘not like the movies’ | Russia-Ukraine war News


Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov spent five years in prison in Russia for protesting the occupation of Crimea, and now he is on the front lines fighting for revenge.

Instead of being behind the camera, the winner European Union Sakharov Human Rights Prize signed up as a defense volunteer to fight the invasion of Moscow.

“This fight is not the way you imagine it to be in the movies,” said Sentsov, wearing a khaki camouflage suit and beard that concealed his previously shaved face.

“Close contact, shot from small arms, not so much. Most of the time this is artillery and your job is to keep the front lines in the trenches, and not die from shelling.”

The 45-year-old suffers from a constant cough from an illness that he says occurred during a break of several days after serving on the front against Russian forces in icy conditions.

Sentsov has forged a successful career as an independent film director when Maidan rally in 2014 and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia turned his life upside down.

He wrote and directed his first film Gamer in 2011 with a budget of just $20,000, and at the time of his arrest in 2014, he was planning to make another film, Rhino.

Sentenced plan an arson attackhe was sent to a penal colony in the Russian Arctic, where he went on a 145-day hunger strike during which he lost 30kg (66 pounds) before his release in 2019.

The ‘cruelty’ of the Russians

Leaning against a barricade, Sentsov said his long years behind bars in Russia had shown him that Moscow wouldn’t be satisfied just taking Crimea.

Some of my friends, after I was released from custody, would say, ‘Oh, you’re so radical, you hate the Russians, they’re not that bad,’ the filmmaker said.

“But now they understand me, because I spent five years there. I have seen how they treat the Ukrainians, the Europeans, with their imperial ambitions, with their cruelty.”

The director did not hesitate to join the fight when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

“From the very first days of the war, I was in the Territorial Defense,” he said, adding that he spent two weeks maneuvering checkpoints on the outskirts of the capital.

But he was then pushed to the “first line of defense” along with army units in the jungles at an undisclosed location outside Kyiv.

Mr. Sentsov said that Russia had “created a Vietnam” for Ukrainian forces with the intense artillery and missile fire they resisted.

However, he said with Moscow’s forces trying to step up their offensive stalled and encircling the Ukrainian capital, the fighting would become even more fierce.

“If the attack starts in our direction, we will be the first line to stop it and there will be more close combat,” he said.

‘Simple soldier’

For now, a promising film-directing career that has seen Sentsov’s films screened at European film festivals seems far from flourishing.

“I’m not filming now. First of all, there is no time. Second, I don’t want to,” he said.

Ukrainian officials offered him a job in the press office “because my name is famous, but this is not my path. My path is one of simple soldiers.”

Sentsov said he has received letters of support, including from the European Film Academy and from Ukrainian filmmakers, “but now in wartime, it doesn’t matter whether you are a filmmaker or a bus driver or not. an ordinary worker – we are all soldiers.”

But he hopes to one day return to filmmaking. “I’m not sure what kind of movie I’m going to make. I wrote many scripts before the war. Maybe I’ll come up with some ideas here,” he said.

For now, though, he’ll continue to watch the fight through the rifle scope instead of the camera scope.

“I have lived different lives, my life has changed, my activities have changed. Filmmaking is just a part of my life. Now my life is where I believe it will be most useful for my country,” said Sentsov.

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