Love Europe, not the EU

I recently filmed reportage at the March for Europe in London, prompting a few messages from some asking why I was ‘promoting’ a pro-EU event. Well, my own politics have always been clear on this matter – I don’t support, or even like, the EU, for any number of reasons.

However, when filming reportage, I always try to stay objective, and the answers of those I interviewed speak for themselves:

One common thread was the seeming belief among demonstrators, that the UK was physically leaving Europe. Somehow being uprooted, and put down elsewhere. And more, in almost every respondent, a conflation of the EU, and Europe – i.e. they love Europe, so they love the EU. |

Well, I love Europe – it’s a fascinating place to film reportage, and you’d struggle to find someone who’s traversed Europe more often than myself (obligatory Euro-selfie, right, Czech, 2011). But, the EU? That bloated, bureacratic monolith, led by a problem drinker and a man whose own country despise him?  What’s to love? 

Europe though, I’m here, excited to be here, and looking forward to bringing you interesting reportage on my travels! Remainers do not have the monopoly on ‘loving Europe’, by the way, as much as they may tell you otherwise!

Arriving in Donetsk, 3 Years Ago Today….

3 years ago today, I was arriving in Donetsk, for ‘one week’s work’, with the channel RT, in a bit of a panic at that time, as they couldn’t get their own correspondents into Donbass, calling me in Odessa, where I lived at the time, simply saying ‘get to Donetsk as soon as you can!!‘. I duly drove all night –

After a couple of days, RT managed to get their own correspondents in, and sent me down to Lugansk to see out the remainder of my contract. Then, on 12th April, I heard early on about something happening in nearby Slavyansk, called RT. The producer who answered first said ‘Where’s that?‘ Then ‘Graham, your contract’s almost up, just stay a couple days more in Lugansk‘. I replied that I was going to Slavyansk with or without them.

And there we have it. 

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.

A Graham Newsletter (#16) 360 Degrees, an Aramis SOS, and more

Graham Phillips

It’s been a little while since the last newsletter, and this will be the last one before the final of 2016. To kick things off with an SOS, there’s only 2 days to go for the appeal to raise funds for a headstone fit for the hero of my Donbass film of early 2016, Aramis – if you can be involved in this, it would make a huge difference –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-grave-fit-for-a-hero/x/12236308#/

The last period has seen me reporting everything from Donbass – shelling, events, on the street reportage – and also a quick break to Russia to purchase a new camera, a 360-degree camera, allowing you to control the video yourself (panel in the top left, make sure it’s on high resolution setting, and on a computer rather than phone) – here’s the first result of my 360 degree camera, from Pervomaisk –

I’m very excited about this format, as it allows me to bring you reportage from Donbass in a new, visceral way, and am looking forward to bringing you more 360 going forward!

All this is, of course, thanks to those who support my work – my 3 month crowdfunding campaign for independent journalism from Donbass, here. I’m currently working through the pledges I made to all of those of you who supported me, to honour my commitment to you.

For those of you who wish to make ongoing pledge to my work, I’ve now set up a link for that, here – https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

I’m also, of course, hugely grateful to my volunteer subtitle-makers, Sergey Yermolayev, and Anastasic Urtica. Their amazing work means I can show you, in English, all sides of the situation in Donbass. From student talent shows –

To frontline interviews – 

Special reportage – 

Coverage of press conferences – 

Exclusive interviews – 

And doing what the western media refuse to do here, simply speaking to people in Donbass –

There is also, of course, photo reportage, updates, and much more which I bring you via my Twitter account, here. And I’d like to add that you can find all of my English-language reportage in the Facebook group ‘Truth in Journalism‘ – and big up to Daniel Franz, who’s doing great work as the admin of this group!

There’s also this site, of course, the Truth Speaker, where I bring you exclusive content such as this article about the OSCE –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/11/28/the-osce-in-donetsk-what-are-they-there-for/

This debunking of more western lies about Donbass

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/12/04/updates-from-the-dlpr-9-reconstruction-versus-hearsay-in-the-dpr/

And publishing this open letter to Donald Trump, by more than 20 industry experts –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/12/03/an-open-letter-to-donald-trump-on-mh17/

As we now move into the festive season, I’ll be looking forward to bringing you as much reportage as possible, across formats and mediums, and as always hoping for positive, rather than negative.

Before wrapping things up for this one, a mention for Patrick Lancaster, and the great work he’s doing here, both in journalism, and the humanitarian sphere, details of his humantarian work here –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/12/11/help-for-donbass-an-urgent-appeal-from-patrick-lancaster/

Thanks so much for being with me, my very best wishes with you, as ever! Will be in touch with you all before the new year. Graham

New English Reportage from Donbass (#2) 360 Pervomaisk, Lugansk School, Alexander Hug

The latest in the series looking at my recent, English-language  video reportage from Donbass. Graham Phillips

A 360 degree look at a wrecked apartment building in the town of Pervomaisk (you can spin the camera yourself) –

In conversation with pupils at a Lugansk school –

An interview with Alexander Hug, of the OSCE –

Updates from the DLPR (#8) Leaving and Returning to the LPR, and the difference…

I left the Lugansk People’s Republic a couple of weeks ago, to go to report from the DPR for a period. The LPR I left was at that time, almost entirely quiet, in terms of war. Events were of a more positive nature, this flashmob in Pervomaisk –

And here, Lugansk schoolchildren sing ‘Imagine’ to me!

Returning to Lugansk – with an evacuation taking place from a frontline village, and the reason clear in this video report, huge thanks to Sergey Yermolayev for English subtitles here –

Back in Lugansk, it was immediately thrust into reporting of a different kind, as Ukrainian forces had fired 7 times into villages by the perimeter. I go there to report on it, and ask why the OSCE are there, but don’t seem to be doing anything –

Here’s a look at the frontline, and the distance between sides –

And here, with full English subs, again thanks to Sergey Yermolayev, an exclusive English-language interview from the LPR frontlines –

We go on here, in the LPR for now, with more reportage to come, but let’s hope for a return to the positive, rather than the latest.

Updates from the DLPR (#4) Shelling in the DPR and LPR

Reports from the DPR about ceasefire violations have been in the thousands, by the week, in October. However, numbers are numbers, and it’s sadly the case that it takes victims for shelling to really make news, get attention. You will doubtless be aware that on October 27th, the city of Makeevka (by Donetsk) was hit by Ukrainian shelling, with two killed as a result, some photos of that here –

Edward Basurin, the DPR Defence spokesman, named Thursday 27th as ‘Black Thursday’, with a total of three killed, across the DPR, and 10 wounded. 

Patrick Lancaster, in Donetsk, reports heavy shelling audible this night. Let’s wait until morning, and hope for no more victims.

There is a conception that over in the LPR, things are calm and peaceful. That’s a misconception, as I filmed from the scene where it seems Ukrainian forces had intentionally hit a civilian car with an anti-tank device, with the 60-year-old male driver now in a critical condition, after having undergone an amputation –

You can take your pick of reasons for the escalation, from time of year – this time last year, and of course 2014, also saw an escalation of shelling – to the upcoming US presidential election. But, there’s no question, Ukrainian shelling is intensifying in both the DPR, and LPR, and there are victims.