In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Danish producer Monica Hellström (“Flee”) and Sundance-winning helmer Simon Lereng Wilmont have joined forces to support the evacuation of some of the subjects portrayed in their Oscar-shortlisted documentary “The Distant Barking of Dogs.”
Hellström told Variety that she and Lereng Wilmont quickly got in touch with assistant director and local production coordinator to help them in their efforts to evacuate Oleg Afanasyev and his grandmother Alexandra, the protagonists of “The Distant Barking of Dogs,” from their war-torn village of Hnutove in Donetsk. The news was first reported by the website Nordic Film and TV News.
Meanwhile, the children at the shelter that was the focus of “A House Made of Splinters,” which just earned Lereng Wilmont a best director award at Sundance last month, have also been evacuated to a safer area after facing a bombing threat.
Hellström, who produced “Flee,” “The Distant Barking of Dogs” and “A House Made of Splinters” through her banner Final Cut for Real, has also joined forces with Lereng Wilmont to raise funds through the non-profit org Voices of Children for kids who have been evacuated from shelters in Eastern Ukraine, including those depicted in their documentary “A House Made of Splinters.”
“We want to provide these children with food and clothing — everything they need,” said Hellström, whose documentary “Flee” is nominated for three Oscars. The non-profit org was launched by Lena Rosvadovska, the coordinator of “A House Made of Splinters.”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs,” which chronicles a year in the life of Oleg during the armed conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine, was critically acclaimed upon premiering in 2017 at IDFA. It also won a prestigious Peacock Award and was part of the documentary shortlist at the Academy Awards.
On Thursday, the European Film Academy sent a letter of support to its 60 plus Ukrainian members.
“We need to immediately move beyond ‘thoughts and prayers’ and start to concentrate on what practical help can be given to our membership and community,” European Film Academy chair and board member of the International Coalition for Film makers at Risk, Mike Downey, told Variety.