I Live Here – social drama, modern history

I Live Here* is feature film classified as modern history social drama. This is the story of three young Muslims from Middle East who come to Ukraine in order to receive higher education. Not knowing each other, not being aware about the life, the language, the weather,  and the habits of this country, they survive the dramatic changes in this society related to the dissolution of the USSR.

They take the challenge with dignity and courage, still having to get through many difficult and sometimes funny situations as the society transforms. Sometimes the very life is in danger. But they grow up, become real men, find their way, build up their lives and careers, and at the end they find each other in true lifetime friendship.

*Project in development with ECHO-Media – http://www.echo.net.ua/en

SYNOPSIS

Ismail, Vaail and Basil, three young men from Middle East, come to study in Ukraine in the late 80-ies. They have trouble with local language, food, weather, habits and moods of the people.

Comic and dramatic situations shown reflect the experiences of their real-life prototypes learning to survive and to fight for their future.

Obeying his father’s will, Ismail enters Simferopol Medical institute. Gradually he grows to love Ukraine and his teachers, and decides to build his career in this country.

Vaail moves to Vinnytsa very unwillingly. But everything changes when he meets the love of his life. Now he grows up very quickly and wins the parents’ consent of his fiancé. To do so, he risks his future, and even his life.

Basil becomes the leader of small community of Muslim students in Kyiv. He also launches educational and cultural mission the Crimean Tartars coming back to their homeland after long-term exile.

The threads of life of all three do not cross each other, still weaving within the same stream of changes all the republics of the former USSR undergo. The challenges the main characters face would get tougher over time.

They have to deal with cruelty and unjustedness. But they make it anyway, gradually becoming the true sons of their new homeland and active members of this society.

At the end, they meet, make friends with each other and join their efforts. Ismail, Vaail and Basil establish Muslim cultural and educational center nowadays playing an important role in social life of Ukraine.

I Live Here – Director’s Notes

“I LIVE HERE” feature film is an optimistic social drama based on real events and lives of real people. These people, three young men from different countries of Middle East, come to get their higher education in Ukraine. They immediately find themselves in quite alien social and cultural environment, and have serious adaptation trouble, which makes the task of their integration into new society very difficult to accomplish.

This situation was really interesting for me, especially because of the timing of the events. It was the period of dissolution of the USSR, when the society these young men just began to adapt to, started to rapidly change, all of a sudden. The whole system of existing social links, relations and ties falls apart. The education, career, jobs, life priorities and preferences, and even interpersonal relations become very different, and nobody is quite ready.

But the situation gets even tougher for the main characters, just as much as for their real life prototypes. They would have to overcome many obstacles, both psychological and social. And they act. They do something. There are many situations – dramatic, comic, sometimes tragic and thrilling – in which they show their morale, true virtues and values, faithfulness, kindness and compassion, doubts and inner struggle, and incredible aptitude to establish and maintain positive relations with other people.

In Ukraine, they find their new home and new friends, build up their families and new lives, and help other people. It makes them fully integrated members of this new society, still facing many difficult challenges of modern history.

Gradually, but not too slowly, these young men, who in the beginning would barely understand the things around them, become mature self-sufficient men, fully-integrated members of the society, building up their own future and playing their own social roles – bright, vivid and positive.

The director’s task – to present the dynamics of how these interesting personalities develop against the background of troubled times of fundamental social transformation with this linear, three-line story – is quite complicated and ambitious. I would like to focus more on intentions, motives, inners struggle and actions of the characters in critical situations where and when serious choices have to be made. The storyline contains many such situations.

It should be also kept in mind that behind and underneath the pure storytelling and showing the events involved there lay much bigger problematic humankind had to deal with since the times of Great Resettlement of People and up to modern time reality. It is the search for new home the people have to undertake due to many different circumstances, driving them far away from where they were born and grew up.

There are several fundamental questions the people seldom dare to ponder on: what is the place I could call “home”, and why? What should I do in order to make the place I live in my true home?

And the most difficult these questions are for those who now live in some other land, in quite different social, cultural and economic environment. The main song of the soundtrack – the song “I Live Here” – is a concentrated expression of the feelings such people experience.

But the character of this movie find their own answers to these questions, which makes up the main moral and ethic problematic of this film: friendship, love, faith, things they love to do; doing the Good and confronting the Evil – that is what helps them to overcome everything, to find their new life full of new senses in their new Ukrainian home.

The visual design solutions of the film should be developed accordingly. For example, restricted “Scandinavian noire” colour palette would perfectly do for the opening scenes, consonnating with the initial psycho-emotional state of the main characters when greyish and unsaturated colours well reflect their pessimistic moods, awkwardness and uneasiness in the new world they just started to discover.

This colour palette would gradually change over time. There will be more expressive, bright, colour strokes and saturated touches, as if made by a confident brush of a qualified artist who paints the canvas of his own life. This gradual change of visual styles would help to underline the transformation of the main characters and their lives.

The “atmosphere of the time” is very important in this film. The real life details and peculiarities of late 80-es – early 90-ies in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Syria, will be shown through macro and close-ups. Everything is important – food, tableware, clothing, furniture, various household items and appliances, transportation, communication medias, and even the way the characters speak. All these would help the viewers who remember these times to submerge into the atmosphere of that period. And those who don’t remember would learn a lot.

Creatively working with the cast on this rich, entertaining and thoughtful material, we are going to produce high-quality and appealing social drama, which, in fact, is full of optimism and hope.

 

I LIVE HERE – Producer’s Notes

Working on “I Live Here” feature film project we understood that the main task of this work would be finding the right way to present and deliver the values and virtues of different people originating from different national, social and religious backgrounds. These values and virtues are of key importance for every person on Earth, and that is why the appeal of this story is indeed very wide.

This film projects tells an interesting story and addresses the hot issues the whole world still works on. All the material, interesting and diverse, is presented through the prism of modern history of Ukraine.

The approach chosen considerably expands the target audience.

In Ukraine:

  • the people of different age groups involved in active citizenship;
  • the people who are related, this way or another, to immigration and social adaptation issues;
  • the viewers who just love optimistic social dramas exploring difficult topics of modern reality and focusing on curvy life-stories of the main characters.

In the Islamic countries:

  • the broad audiences interested in the problems of emigration and emigrants, especially related to the agendas the Muslims have in their new surrounding.

In the countries of the former USSR:

  • the people who remember well the dissolution of the USSR, the life in these transitional times, and also those who are interested in modern time reflections of 80-ies and 90-ies.

In the whole world:

  • the audiences interested in the problems of interaction of different cultures and traditions, world outlooks and adaptation of the immigrants in multiple and controversial contexts of globalization;
  • all the lovers of optimistic social dramas based on real life events and stories told in entertaining and at the same time thoughtful way;
  • and surely – all those who are interested in modern history of Ukraine, the people who would like to figure out what is happening there, and why.

From the point of view of modern political and economic agenda, the project is very responsive, especially taking into account European and global migration challenges of modern times as the issues of social adaptation, right protection and integration into society are featured, and Ukraine is certainly a part of this agenda.

But immigration is not only a problem. It is a great opportunity for any country the immigrants arrive to. Featuring the real life examples in this film project, we are going to demonstrate the positive and long-term experience Ukraine gained in this field.

This film project presents the fruits of social adaptation, cultural interaction and mutual understanding, and at the same time – the true value of preserving religious and cultural identity of the Muslims living in other environments.

 

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