In Ukraine, actors and technicians, from cinema to war

In Ukraine, actors and technicians, from cinema to war


“Tarantino” is no more. Tarantino died, weapons in hand, near the town of Soledar, Donbass. In war, soldiers receive a nickname to exchange by walkie-talkie within their unit. As Viktor Onysko was chief editor, “and in the army we are not always very intellectual or full of imagination,” his wife, Olga Birzul manages to smile, he had become Tarantino. He joined the armed forces a few days after the Russian invasion, on March 4, 2022, “and his friends at the front told me that, when it was necessary to advance, he marched first, leading his people, brandishing his weapons in imitating the characters of Tarantino’s films”, the American director of Inglourious Basterds.

In the fall of 2022, Tarantino and his unit fought for forty days to retake the city of Kherson from Russian forces, before joining the Donetsk and Luhansk fronts. From his camp or in the trenches, this former punk guitarist wrote and filmed himself with his phone. In the last video sent to his wife and granddaughter, on December 17, 2022, his 40th birthday, Tarantino, now a platoon commander, walked in a devastated landscape while softly whistling an electro tune under his soldier’s helmet. Singing in the war…

“My husband had a sense of rhythm and a musical ear, that’s also why he was such an excellent editor,” confides his wife. In this short and pretty shot that he wanted to be optimistic, but which cried in spite of himself, he passed in front of a gutted nightclub and promised to return there for an evening where he would DJ himself. Thirteen days later, Viktor Onysko was killed under heavy enemy strikes and the small family of the auteur film gathered in kyiv to warm up, without him.

Sniper in a movie

There is no more filming in Ukraine today. In a dizzying mise en abyme, the Ukrainian cinema world finds itself at war, sometimes after having predicted it and announced it in documentaries, often after having played it out. Pavlo Aldoshyn, 36, has not participated in the same genre of fiction as Tarantino, but he fights the same enemy. During a round trip from his camp, this series actor met us on the outskirts of the small Ukrainian town of Rjychchiv, about sixty kilometers southeast of Kiev.

Pavlo Aldoshyn, October 27, 2023, near kyiv. The actor, who played the role of a sniper in the cinema, today plays the same role in an assault brigade.

He rolls up his soldier’s hood into a cap, sits astride a low wall with his cup of steaming coffee and under the October sun his beard sparkles with the same gold as his earring. “The Ukrainian soldier can wear whatever he wants, beard, mustache, long hair, that’s what differentiates him from the Russians,” he said. On his nose, precision glasses. The same as for his last role on screen, a fiction filmed just before the war: Sniper, the white crow .

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