Ukrainian director Marisia Nikityuk – A call for a boycott of culture

Marsia Nikityuk spoke to me as she walked the streets of Ivano-Frankivsk. Here life is still normal. Aside from the occasional air raid alert and a destroyed airport, the Ukrainian city south of Lviv was unaffected by the war.

I have been in Ivano-Frankivsk for about a week. Before that I was in the countryside, in the Rivne region, halfway between Kyiv and Lviv. Here in Ivano-Frankivsk I lived in the theater for a week in the restroom. I slept on a seat there. The theater has set up its own dressing rooms for refugee artists.”

Nikityuk had already left Kyiv on the second day of the war, with some baggage and her cat. Today, my cat and I found an apartment that we can stay in at the moment. Finally a bathtub and washing machine again! “

The night before the outbreak of the war, Marcia Nikityuk was still working on exhibitions for her new film projects, but she has not recognized her since.

Threat of air strikes

My problem, I live in Kyiv on the eighth floor, the top floor of the building. It is the most dangerous at the top. Since the sirens are constantly moaning, you have to stay in the shelter almost all the time, practically living there. Running back and forth is not working. Also here in Ivano-Frankivsk there are frequent alarms at the moment. But in the apartment, my cat and I found a place with two wall mounts. In the theater, where I slept two days ago, we had to go to the cellar all the time. It was always cramping. I always had to catch the cat, and she didn’t want to come with me.”

Marcia Nikitiuk’s first feature film, Family Drama When Trees Fall Down, premiered at the 2018 Berlinale Panorama. More feature films follow.

Underestimating the Soviet Union and Russia

What annoys the director: at festivals, films from Russia and Ukraine regularly end up in the same bowl of “Eastern European countries”. Marcia Nikityuk no longer wants and can accept this, in view of the brutal attack on her homeland. This also bothers her that many Europeans underestimate Russia from their point of view.

What I don’t understand is the romanticization of the Soviet Union among young leftists in Europe. Friends, you should study history. This was a time of suppression and suppression of the will, both collectively and individually. That was terrible. There is also this peculiar romance of Russia in general. That is why European politicians, including German politicians, are slowly beginning to realize that this oil and gas is mixed with the blood of Ukrainians with the blood of humans.”

Like many cultural workers from Ukraine, Marisia Nikityuk calls for sanctions not only on the Russian economy but also on Russian culture.

Russian culture should be banned

When we demanded a boycott of Russian culture, the response was repeatedly that Putin is evil, but Russians are good. They too will suffer from the situation. This is a mistake. Almost all of Russian art is based on these imperial ideas. And in wartime, as long as blood flows in Ukraine, there can be no Russian politics, economy and culture in the civilized world. This should be blocked for this time period. Because people die, they get killed and raped – that’s terrible.”

Cultural workers such as Marisia Nikityuk are demanding that no films, plays, concerts or ballets from Russia be shown in European theaters as long as the war in Ukraine continues.

‘Putin’s Russia collectively’

There is a collective responsibility because Russia is a collective Putin. Looking for blame here is like asking about the origin of the egg and the chicken. Putin is a product of the system. It did not come out of nowhere. That is why such a mood surprises me in European circles. You can’t block Russia without blocking its ideology. I have Russian friends. Some left the country, others stayed. I was shocked. They write that they don’t want to see it coming.”

Other Russian colleagues and acquaintances of Marcia are not clearly against the war. Her Russian relatives have not asked about the family since the beginning of the war. No longer submitting reports.

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