Mon Feb 27, 2023 – 7:30 pm | Hendricks Arts Center
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The Long Breakup is a feature length documentary about Ukraine’s attempt to escape Russia’s embrace, leave its Soviet past behind and become a truly independent country. Katya Soldak, a Ukrainian-American filmmaker now living in Brooklyn, tells the story of her home country as it exits the USSR, works through two revolutions of its own, and endures a war with Russia–all through the eyes of her family in Kharkiv, a large Ukrainian city, only 18 miles away from the Russian border.
As her hometown faces the danger of being taken over by pro-Russian separatists, Katya, torn between Brooklyn and Ukraine, tries to understand how the city arrived to that point. Katya explores the story of her life in Soviet Ukraine and the first years of the country’s independence, before she moves to the USA and begins working as a journalist in New York. Staying connected with the home country, she finds herself immersed in Ukraine’s struggle.
Meanwhile, Katya’s family in Kharkiv is directly affected by Ukraine’s fight to break with Russia. As Ukrainians face Russian invasion, Katya’s mother, initially attached to her Russian roots, discovers tremendous love and support for Ukraine within herself; as do other previously ambiguous Ukrainians. In a deeply intimate way, the film depicts a family’s personal connection to significant and unprecedented historic events.
News & Reviews
Winner of the People’s Choice Award
Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), 2021
The Best Feature Documentary Award
Indy Film Fest, 2022
The Cercle d’or for Best Feature Documentary Award
Sherbrooke World Film Festival, 2022
The Grand Prix Documentary Award
Rising Sun International Film Festival, 2022
The Silver Award for Best Feature Documentary
Tokyo Film Awards, 2022
The Dr. Sydney K. Shapiro Humanitarian Award
Phoenix Film Festival, 2022
The Best Editing of a Documentary Award
Madrid International Film Festival, 2022
The Excellence in Editing Award
Docs Without Borders Film Festival, 2022
The Best Editing Award
Brussels World Film Festival, 2022
“Truly a rare moment in Cinema… This film is a marvel”
Mélikah Abdelmoumen & Marc Béland, CBC Radio Canada
“An Exquisite Gem. Tenderness, wonder, & dignity…
a beautiful film about beautiful people”
Richard Propes, The Independent Critic
“Anyone who watches Dear Audrey will undoubtedly conclude
that Hayes is a masterful filmmaker”
Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight
“Touching… luminous… truly magnificent”
Caroline Levesque, CBC Radio Canada
“Dear Audrey, a riveting documentary…
that stands as a powerful paean to passion and perseverance”
Evelyn C White, The Halifax Examiner
“…so many amazing lessons, stories, emotions with pain
and celebration intertwined”
Darren Wiesner, Hollywood North Magazine
“It’s impossible to watch this documentary, (a People’s Choice Award winner), without being overwhelmed by its sweetness and generosity”
Silvia Galipeau, La Press
“…an at once ethereal reflection on the enduring power of love,
and unblinking revelation of life’s steel-cold realities”
Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio
“The central force of Dear Audrey is the eternal, almost implacable force of love that binds people together through the most difficult times”
Dorothy Woodend, The Tyee
“Dear Audrey celebrates the very best the human heart has to offer, with such compassion, artistry and grace”
Terre Nash, Oscar-winning director
“A Stunning Love Story You Won’t Soon Forget!”
Indy Film Fest
“This love story will bring you joy, hope, tears and humility…”
Dr. Jen Hammersmark, Mind Your Madness
“…a beautiful homage to Audrey, to the couple’s
love and their family”
Nantali Indongo, CBC Radio
“Beautiful, touching … ‘Dear Audrey’ is a testament to
what Audrey was and what she remains forever”
Rob Wilson, The Bobr Times
“Poignant and could not be more authentic”
Amandine de Chanteloup, Le Collectif
When I went to Ukraine in 2005, after the Orange Revolution, to make a film, I thought it would be a short documentary about a post-soviet country that found its new path towards a democratic future. However, the story didn’t add up: that bright future didn’t happen, the characters didn’t evolve, Ukraine and its people slipped into stagnation. Despite that, I became very intrigued by Ukraine, its history and complex identity.
As a Ukrainian who grew up in the USSR, having lived in an independent Ukraine for a decade before moving to the US, I realized I had a very vague idea about Ukraine and its story. So, I kept coming back: to follow up, to do more interviews, to look for clues and deeper understanding of why this rich country with such potential is stuck in economic decline and a post-soviet mentality. Why the statues of Lenin and communist leaders are still standing in central squares? Why people still appreciate soviet symbols and hold on to old habits?
My friends and family didn’t refrain from sarcastic remarks when I chased them with questions; my own mother accused me of being Americanized and becoming detached from Ukrainian life (which may have been true, although she came around a few years later and views once unthinkable to her then became her new reality). I didn’t know where Ukraine was going and what was coming next, but I was convinced that making this film was important as I strongly felt I was witnessing something historic — and I was right.
I’ve lived through some of those historic moments: communism, Gorbachev’s perestroika, the fall of the Berlin wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the beginning of Ukrainian independence. When life took me overseas, my Ukrainian family continued living through tumultuous times: revolutions, fear of separatism, war. Through my story and my family’s story I’m opening up a window into the personal lives of ordinary people who were forced to live through a series of historic cataclysms, showing how they handled daily challenges and what they thought and felt in the moment.
I could have never imagined myself embarking on a storytelling journey that would last for years and would come to a conclusion more than a decade after I arrived in my hometown of Kharkiv with a video camera. When the Maidan revolution of 2014 prompted the Russian government to invade Ukraine and start a war, with a military conflict zone close to my home town, the story became clear. Those events shook my family more than the collapse of the Soviet Union and made them discover strong patriotic feelings for Ukraine.
The Long Breakup is my attempt to take the viewer on an intimate journey, and show how big geopolitical changes — the ones most only hear about in the news — affect ordinary people on a personal level.
Katya Soldak is a Brooklyn-based journalist, born and raised in Ukraine. She works as an editorial director for Forbes Magazine, having previously toiled in the world of documentary production at CBS News Productions and various production houses in New York City. She’s produced and directed short documentary films (The Tunnel Man, Swimming Cities by Swoon) and written cover stories for Forbes about Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs. A Columbia School of Journalism alumna, she’s interviewed high-profile politicians and artists.
Earlier in her career, Katya’s passion for video storytelling brought her and her video camera to numerous interesting places, from rural villages in Tanzania to Ukrainian street protests.
Katya directed her first documentary feature The Long Breakup, the story of her family living through the end of the USSR on through Ukraine’s attempts to truly separate from Russia.