Los Angeles, March 3 It was only a few months ago that actress Ivanna Sakhno had every reason to celebrate, when it was announced the ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ actor would be joining highly anticipated Star Wars limited series ‘Ahsoka’ opposite Rosario Dawson.
But last week Sakhno’s world came crashing down when, during an evening out with friends in New York’s East Village, she found out Russia had invaded her native Ukraine. Sakhno immediately called her mother, Ukrainian director Galina Kuvivchak-Sakhno, and her father Anatolii Sakhno, a cinematographer who remains in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city.
Sakhno spoke to Variety about the devastating situation unfolding in her homeland, reports variety.com.
Asked how her family is and Where are they in Ukraine, she replied: “My father has been relocating children and their mothers from Kyiv to safer parts of Ukraine where they have created a base for orphans and families of soldiers. His mother is in Crimea, a part of Ukraine that has been occupied since March 2014 – I have not been able to see her ever since. My other grandmother is hiding in a bunker that was used in World War II and up until now functioned as a city gym. The rest of my extended family is in Kyiv.”
How often are you in contact with them?
“I try to stay in contact with them as much as I can, although at times it has been difficult due to lack of service. I am mostly able to check how they are doing through the 24-hour news channel in Ukraine. They’re updating on where the most heated conflicts are occurring, which at least gives me a sense of how safe they are whenever we can’t be in touch.”
Talking about how did you first find out Russia had invaded Ukraine last Thursday, she said: “I was in the East Village in New York at a movie night with my close friends. My best friend, Giullian, had just read the news and quietly advised that I should call my family. I don’t really remember much of what happened afterwards, I remember opening the map of Ukraine and seeing where the attacks began happening.”
“I remember my world going silent, like a distant echo. I couldn’t get in touch with my father nor my grandmothers, only with my mother (who is in the US) who simply reminded me that now is not the time to cry, but to keep a clear head and take action.
How are you feeling?
“To be honest, I wouldn’t be able to answer this question right now. My head is in Ukraine and my body is at the protests (against Russia taking place in New York). There are too many Ukrainian children in bunkers being shelled for me to be concerned about my feelings at the moment. But looking into the eyes of those thousands on the streets, Ukrainians and otherwise, coming together in solidarity; all the while witnessing the bravery of those in Ukraine, instills in me a deep pride in my people. In the face of such needless hatred and destruction, they are a beacon of the unshakeable Ukrainian courage.”
Does she think the US and the rest of Europe are doing enough to help Ukraine, she said: The turnout of the people on the streets and the response of citizens around the world has been the reaction one would hope for when an independent nation gets invaded.
“The important thing right now is the response of the world leaders: to send more military support, establish no fly zones over part or all of Ukrainian territory, isolate Kremlin oligarchs and their families (revoke their visas, keep their accounts frozen), boycott Russian businesses in America/Europe (see Governor Abbott’s action in Texas), ask American companies with significant activity in Russia to withdraw their employees and provide humanitarian support. This is the help we need as we defend our country night and day, because if [Russian president Vladimir] Putin is not stopped, our land may not be the last he puts his foot on.”
Have you ever met Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy? What do you think of his leadership and resistance against Russia?
I met President Zelenskyy for the first time when I was 8 years old at his comedy show “??????? 95.” I was just a small kid that loved watching him as he is one of the best comedians in Ukraine and came up to him after the show to take a picture. 16 years later, just prior to the current situation, we were planning to meet to speak on the future development of our country’s film industry.
I’m extremely proud of how he’s been leading us through the toughest imaginable time. He’s doing everything within his power and displaying unparalleled courage, from his speech at the Munich conference to making the choice to stay in Kyiv with the people despite being the No. 1 target.
This is, of course, not the most pressing concern at the moment – but in terms of looking toward the future, what impact do you think this war will have on Ukraine’s film and television industry?
War has been a clear theme in Ukrainian cinema in recent years, due to the Russian Federation’s desperate attempts to tear and reshape Ukrainian history – and I think at this global turning point, the cinema of Ukraine will be of great educational importance for both Eastern Europe and the rest of the world.