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  • 16 November 2016

    "To my father" movie about the Soviet massacre of Ukrainians, Poles and Russians committed in Vinnitsa at the end of the 1930s took place at the University of Ottawa on November 15, 2016.

    The event was organized by the Embassy of Poland in Ottawa, the Young Polish-Canadian Professionals Association and the Slavic Research Group at the uOttawa. It was a part of Play Poland Film Festival that took place for the fifth time in Ottawa thanks to the YPCPA efforts. Guests who gathered at the uOttawa had also an opportunity to see an exhibition about Polish architecture.

    - I’m glad that we can show this film tonight in Ottawa. It tells the story of sometimes forgotten events of the Stalin’s “Great Purge” period and is a tribute to the truth – said chargé d’affaires of the Republic of Poland in Ottawa Mr. Łukasz Weremiuk.

    "To my Father” (in Polish, “Ojcu”) is a directorial debut of Diana Skaya from Montreal. The Polish-born Skaya lived in Armenia for the first five years of her life before moving to Canada. The Vinnitsa massacre is a story that is close to her heart because it directly touched her family. The production co-director is Liliana Komorowska, who is known for her roles in Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi films, as well as the production of the internationally award-winning film “Beauty and the Breast," about a woman’s battle with breast cancer.

    The script of "To my Father” was inspired by a poem by the same title written by Skaya’s aunt, Alina Bandrowska, about her father Adam Bandrowski’s tragic life. Bandrowski, a teacher at  Vinnytsa’s technical agricultural school was arrested by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, at the beginning of 1938. He shared the fate of more than 13,000 victims of the Vinnitsa massacre, perpetrated against Poles, Ukrainians and Russians under the pretext of the Soviet Union’s fight against the enemies of communism and Polish spies. The victims’ bodies were buried in a mass grave in a Vinnitsa park. The massacre was  discovered as late as in 1943, around the same time as the Katyń massacre. But unlike Katyń, victims of the Vinnitsa massacre were only civilians and their tragic fate is one of the lesser known episodes of Stalin’s 'Great Terror'.

    There was also a panel discussion after the screening with the participation of Ms. Dian Skaya and Ms. Liliana Komorowska, as well as prof. Richard Sokoloski of the Slavic Research Group at the uOttawa and professor of history Mr. Patryk Połeć. – Our film is dedicated to those families of the victims, who never found graves of their close ones and couldn’t have soothed the sorrow – said Liliana Komorowska. According to prof. Sokoloski the film has universal meaning because it tells the story of terror. It also combines memory with art and that is why it is an antidote .

    The project was made possible thanks to a Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs grant for the promotion of cooperation with the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad.

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