My Next Film: The Story of Irina Gurtyak

Graham Phillips

Irina GurtyakI’ve almost completed work on my next full-length film, which will be released likely in early April, and with English subtitles.

The film is called, as above, The Story of Irina Gurtyak. Irina, Ira, was a young journalist from Lugansk, who I got to know in my time in Lugansk, December of 2015. She made a huge impression on me, a truly remarkable young lady, organising this Master Class in which I took part. Ira was dedicated to being a journalist, to delivering truth to the world about Donbass. She was dynamic, beautiful, incredibly friendly, kind, a wonderful young lady, of immense potential.

I left Donbass in mid-January, for a holiday in Russia. On January 31st, in St Petersburg, I woke to receive devastating news – Ira had been killed in a car crash.  

The news was so shocking as to be hard to process. Lugansk was peaceful at that time, no shelling, yet Ira’s life had been taken in a tragic accident, in which the driver of the car she was in, was at fault.

Irina GurtyakIt was something I thought of a lot in the first part of 2016, it played in the mind – the loss of a life with such potential, the cruel needlessness of it, exactly a week after her 20th birthday. Ira was a person who had shown me a lot of kindness, warmth, but more than that, as I spoke with more people who knew her, I became aware of the fascinating story of her life.

So it was, in mid 2016, with the full cooperation of her family, I decided to make a Irina Gurtyak 2film about her. But not simply a tribute film, for those who knew her. In Ira’s story, I saw, and see, a wide significance, and resonance, for everyone. It’s a story of a journalist, the story of a Luganchan (a native of Lugansk, as she was), the story of war, how war changed lives in Lugansk, the story of why such an intelligent young lady chose the life she did, the story of how Ira survived a war which wrought devastation on her hometown, yet still died due to war, and what goes with it. And more.

As my previous full-length film, Aramis, I’m working on this film with Oleg Somov. I’ve already travelled 8000km for the film, filmed over 50 interviews. There’s one more to film.

This film is absolutely not-for-profit, any costs have been met from my own budget, raised via crowdfunding. 

It’s a film I never wanted to make, or could have imagined making. But, it’s one which had to be made, and made as best possible. It’s the final story of a journalist who should have had a lifetime of stories ahead of her, and it’s one I hope, and believe, you will find meaning in.

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