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A filmmaker risked sniper fire to capture the Ukraine war for a powerful documentary, and the new trailer just dropped

TKTKTKBernard-Henri Levy with Ukrainian service members in a front-line trench position near Lyman in the Donbas region.

Courtesy photo

  • Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine has been ongoing for nearly 14 months.
  • A French filmmaker spent much of 2022 documenting battlefield scenes across the country.
  • Insider spoke with Bernard-Henri Levy to learn more about his experience on the ground. 

Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 14 months ago, and the bloody conflict it ignited shows no signs of ending any time soon. 

Bernard-Henri Levy, a French filmmaker and public intellectual, spent much of last year documenting the horrors of the Ukraine war for an upcoming film, from the early days of Russia’s invasion in late February to Ukraine’s liberation of massive chunks of territory during the final weeks of the year that’s now ground into a war of attrition on mostly static front lines. 

Levy, 74, filmed on battlefields across the country — from Kharkiv in the northeast, Kherson in the south, and the capital city Kyiv. He captured the struggle of Ukrainian civilians under relentless attacks, embedded with Ukrainian special forces units, and even witnessed fighting in the war-torn city of Bakhmut — which is the longest and deadliest battle of the war so far.

Levy’s documentary, “Slava Ukraini,” (which translates to “Glory to Ukraine”) will premiere in select theaters on May 3 and on digital platforms across the country on May 5. Insider obtained an exclusive copy of the film’s newest trailer, which features scenes from aboard navy ships and interviews with soldiers. 

Insider also interviewed Levy this week to discuss his experience while reporting in Ukraine, what he observed on the ground, and his overall thoughts on the war. The interview has been edited slightly for clarity. 

Q: Did you or your crew have any close calls during the filming of this documentary?

A: Yes, of course. A Russian drone above our heads in Izium, in Donbas, a little after the Ukrainian victory. Another drone, in Zaporizhzhia, taken down by anti-aircraft systems while we were celebrating, with the Charles de Gaulle Battalion, the bond of friendship between France and Ukraine. And then, this scene, at the end of the film, in Kherson: the city has just been liberated; I absolutely want to film the Russian positions, from the other side of the Dnieper; and there we are spotted and come under fire from snipers.

TKTKBernard-Henri Levy walks with Ukrainian personnel on the road between Kharkiv and Izium.

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Q: What stands out most to you from your reporting in Ukraine?

A: The dignity of the victims. The everyday heroes. These parents who have lost track of their children but who remain upright amid the suffering. These children who emerge from basements in Kupiansk and who recount how they held on by reading The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. This woman whose building, in Kyiv, has just been destroyed by a missile — and all that remains, to sleep, eat in, live in, is a skeleton of a bathroom suspended, as if by a miracle, between the sky and the earth. This other woman, in Pavlograd, very young, who works in the coal mine. Zelensky is a hero. The Azovstal fighters are heroes. But these ordinary women and men, with no other weapon than the force of their soul, are also heroes.

TKTKA post for “Slava Ukraini,” Bernard-Henri Levy’s upcoming documentary film.

Courtesy photo

Q: Ukraine has sustained huge casualties in defending itself, as you document. What is the morale of troops you embedded with, like those in Ukraine’s special operations forces?

A: “Very high…Our moral is very high.” This is the reply of General Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, hero of the Battle of Kyiv, then of the September 2022 Donbas counteroffensive, when I asked this question. Honestly, I think he is right and that, eight months later, the situation has not changed. This war is atrocious. The life of these soldiers is horrible. The Russian attacks are conducted with a terrible violence and indiscriminating. But the moral of the Ukrainians holds on. These women and men stand strong. And you know why? Because, as Frank Capra said about the Americans during the Second World War, they know why they fight.

TKTKBernard-Henri Levy standing with Ukrainian personnel beside the rubble of a damaged building in Izium following the last Russian rocket attack before the liberation of the city.

Courtesy photo

Q: Are you concerned that support for Ukraine is becoming increasingly unfashionable in France and the West more generally?

A: Yes, of course, there is a fatigue. A lassitude of opinion. You have, in America for example, this terrible pincer: on one side the right of America First who says that America has nothing to do with this mess and that this war is not theirs; and on the other side a certain left who sees this as a war between Europeans, that’s to say between the privileged, and which the damned of the earth have nothing to do with. And then, fortunately, you have the press which covers the battles with courage. Organizations, like Razom for Ukraine, which are constantly supporting, with determination, the tormented civilian population. And President Biden who, indefinitely, and against winds and tides, maintains his support to Zelenskyy. Thank God!

Read the original article on Business Insider