Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Return Sasyk to the Sea film image. Image links to event page.



Film Screening & Discussion. Return Sasyk to the Sea
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Please join the Ukrainian Film Club for a screening of the feature environmental documentary Return Sasyk to the Sea (2022), followed by a discussion with director Andrea Odezynska. Moderated by Yuri Shevchuk.

The film spotlights the destructive legacy Ukraine inherited as a former member of the Soviet Union. The Soviets were obsessed with beating America in every way possible. Boosting agriculture was one “way” and Ukraine was their pawn in this deadly game. The film tells the story of bizarre Soviet irrigation projects in Southern Ukraine that created a slow eco-disaster, which continues today. Construction of the irrigation project began in 1972; rerouting Ukraine’s major rivers and converting all salt-water estuaries into freshwater reservoirs. Sasyk Estuary was the first in line to be converted. In addition to destroying a pristine eco-system, residents in the Sasyk Estuary region lost fresh drinking water, watched cancer rates rise and lost local economies such as fishing. Today, Sasyk Estuary, by the Black Sea, is ground zero for a battle between eco activists vs. poachers and corrupt officials.

Much of the music that gives Return Sasyk to the Sea its hauntingly-beautiful sound is performed by Dakha Brakha, a Ukrainian ethnic (chaos) quartet from Kyiv.

In light of the latest brutal invasion of Ukraine, the story of Sasyk Estuary is a metaphor for the history of Ukraine itself. ~ Andrea Odezynska.

Andrea Odezynska won a 2022 International Wildlife Film Festival Labs Fellowship. In 2018, she won a U.S. Fulbright Scholar grant to research and film Return Sasyk to the Sea, in Ukraine. The film was completed in January 2022 and has a running time of 60 minutes. It is in Ukrainian with English subtitles. In the past, Andrea won “The Best Short Feature Audience Award” at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival (2013). Former movies include Felt, Feelings and Dreams, The Whisperer, Still the River Flows, and Dora Was Dysfunctional. Andrea has an M.F.A. in Film Directing from the American Film Institute Conservatory in Hollywood, CA.