Ukrainian filmmaker Stanislav Kapralov remembers the moment he learned that his childhood dog, Nika, had disappeared when Russia invaded his home country. “That was February 2022,” Kapralov told Yahoo Entertainment. “I was on vacation with my family near the Polish border. My parents had evacuated from Kiev. I learned from them that Nikka fled for fear of shelling.”
“This was a difficult moment for me because Nika is part of my family,” the director continued. “I’ve known her since I was a teenager. That’s why I asked my wife to take care of our children. Going to Poland to stay safe, while I returned to Kiev to find Nikka and help my country.”
This search constitutes Looking for Nika, Kapralov’s harrowing documentary about the toll the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war is taking on Ukraine’s animal populations. Naturally, the director is the heart of the film, although he says his original intention was to remain off-camera so that the audience could focus on what he sees as the real heroes of the story being the people who care for abandoned pets and farm animals. The animals were left behind by Ukrainians who were fledglings or victims of war.
“I tried to remove myself from the movie as much as possible,” says Kapralov. Kapralov was injured during the filming of the film when Russian artillery interrupted a rescue mission at the safari park – Footage The bombing can be seen in . He spent the next month recovering from his injuries in a makeshift underground shelter beneath a friend’s restaurant.
Kapralov’s work has been endorsed by Olina Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady and spouse of President Volodymyr Zelensky. “This film provides a very unique and highly personal look at Ukraine and what Ukrainians are going through as a result of Russia’s ongoing attacks,” Zelenska said in a statement provided to Yahoo Entertainment. Not just a land or a people, but an entire cultural identity—a cultural identity that includes our art, our language, our hopes, our dreams, and yes, even our beloved animals .” This is an important film for everyone in the world to watch, even if it’s uncomfortable. The whole world must bear witness to the extent of the malicious hostility taking place within our borders.”
Fair warning: Looking for Nika Filled with disturbing images of suffering and dead animals. But Kapralov tries to balance these shots with the joyful moments of finding a lost pet and returning it to its owner. While he refused to spoil the ending of his search for Nika, he did say he wanted to leave viewers with a hopeful impression.
“Hope is very important,” the director noted. “I met a lot of people who were light in the darkness and that gave me hope. You can’t be miserable or cry all the time because you’ll go crazy.”
1. There are many heart-wrenching scenes in it Looking for Nika. Do you have any concerns about showing dead or injured animals on camera?
We try to choose our shots carefully.For example, there is a plot in the movie where the Russians [assuage] They were so hungry for the horses that when we got there we met the owner of the horses and he was very upset. We had a lot of shots of burnt animals, but I tried to choose them for the audience. I want to show people to the audience, but we also don’t want them to get annoyed and disgusted and stop watching. It’s important for the world to watch this movie because it’s so important for me as a person who loves animals and believes that every living thing has value.
There was also an episode that we didn’t put in the movie because people told us we couldn’t watch it. We were looking for a cat in the apartment and when we found it, it was already dead. We covered the body and didn’t show it on camera. People close their eyes while watching some parts of the movie, but I feel they have to watch it, especially in the west where they live a comfortable life. Cruelty now rules the world and one must watch this movie to understand what is going on and how some are fighting for humanity while others are trying to kill other creatures.
2. Did you ever fear for your life while filming this film?
In the first week you will fear for your life [that you’re in Ukraine] Because you don’t know what’s going on or how powerful it is [the Russians] yes. My military friends told me I had a 50-50 chance of coming back. But by next week, you accept the fact that you might die. It was a philosophical moment because I realized that our biggest problem as humans is the fear of death. Once I accepted the idea that I could die, I could relax and keep shooting.
3. What do you hope the audience will take away from this film?
I believe that this war has awakened all the good in Ukraine, and for me it is very important to show that we have hope, that we have a future. We are not only fighting for our land, we are fighting for our identity. Even now, I talk to Americans and they ask, “What’s the difference between Ukraine and Russia? You have the same language.” We don’t have the same language. Ukraine has a long history as one of the largest and most powerful European countries.
We are fighting for our future and our children and we don’t want to stop now. We want to win. In this film I show some of the horrors and crimes committed by Russian soldiers. But the main message is hope: hope that evil does not always prevail and that global justice can unite, which is so important right now.
Looking for Nika As part of November 26th, new york doctor festival.