Video: © 2017, Dana Kavelina “Meet Mark Tyulpanov”. Peace Dialogue NGO
“The story of Mark Lvovoch Tyulpanov was born in the project Arena: for one of the working meetings we were asked to present creative products about peace initiatives. Since this task was entrusted to me by our group, I decided to talk to all Ukrainian participants of the ARENA. My colleagues, who have been dealing with problems of refugees and internally displaced persons for many years, told me several stories, for example about a man who still misses his garden, or about two brothers who have taken different sides in the Ukrainian conflict. From all those stories, I have picked one that describes our situation more comprehensively, therefore Mark Tyulpanov is a collective character.” – said Dana Kavelina, one of the Ukrainian participants of the project ARENA: Community Theatre and Public Art. Currently Dana is in Vanadzor, Armenia, where she continues her work on making an animated film based on her story.
“I started working on animated films in Kyiv with the support from the project Arena. I was working with my assistant and the film was almost finished but then my computer was stolen and all the material was lost. I was left with only a few test shots. I lost hope and thought that I would never get a second chance but a month later I received an offer from Peace Dialogue NGO to resume my work in Armenia because the studio in Kyiv where I was working closed down and I would not be able to work there anymore. Of course, I was very happy.” – said Dana.
The artist is preparing a puppet film and believes that this genre is more affable for the viewer than the films created with computer-generated special effects. “In this case there is an impression that all the decorations are real, there is no fraud, everything can be touched, and people are familiar with all the objects that I use. Besides, I have deliberately chosen many Soviet era items that are recognizable for those living in Ukraine, Russia, Armenia and other post-Soviet states. I modify everything I use: I break things, add unfamiliar elements, as if combining the old Soviet objects with something new.”
Dana says the whole team of Peace Dialogue NGO is involved in the preparation of the animation movie. “They have helped me in setting up the decorations and supported in solving the technical issues. I am very happy because due to this joint work the process is faster and better than the first time. I have improved the storyline and now I have an impression that the first time I did just test shots and now, the second time, I put more thought into it. It seems to me that this animation movie is closer to perfection and each scene will look even more complete.”– said Dana.
Dana believes that her participation in the Arena program, and the fact that she got acquainted with other participants, got a closer look at the contexts of the other conflicts, and, finally, her visiting Vanadzor, has given her the opportunity to understand that although the conflicts are different and unique but at the same time they are very similar to each other. The same can be said about the story that is depicted in the film: it can be common to all the conflicts. “Of course, the conflict in Ukraine is local, and it is closer to me, therefore it is logical to make a film about the war in Donbass. But the fact that I am filming in Armenia has a very strong meaning, because I think it is not only the problem of Ukraine, but the problem of many other states and people involved in the conflicts.
We have to do everything we can so that it does not become some distant issue for us and not to think that the issue of Ukraine is only ours, whereas the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is the issue for the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. All those who fight for peace should do this together. It is very comforting for me when the pain is perceived as common and people who are far from the given conflict feel concerned about it.
In the project Arena, for example, the participants from Chechnya also cried when they heard this Ukrainian story because they knew all that, they had gone through all of it. And I think if in this story we replace Ukraine with another state or give Mark Lvovich another name, the story will still be relevant and true.” – she concludes.
During all three years of the “ARENA” the participants have been given the opportunity to organize their local activities or create creative products (theater performances, comics, documentary and animated films). Some of the participants involved in the regional groups representing Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and different regions of Russia have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and some work is still in progress.
In 2016 the collaboration of the Arena participants representing Ukraine, Russian Federation and Azerbaijan resulted in a short documentary called “Rainbow of life” which tells about the activities of human rights organizations in Azerbaijan and reveals the challenges and difficulties they face, particularly the organizations that protect the rights of the minorities.
Another documentary that was prepared by one of the Azerbaijani participants of the Arena project in the framework of the project is based on the story of a girl who left Lachin region at a very young age and now lives in Baku in very poor conditions.
The documentary won the first prize at the IMAGINE Euro Tolerance Festival.
Currently other animation films are being made, for example Norair Hambaryan, an artist from Vanadzor, is currently visualizing the story of the Arena participants from Chechnya which is called “Black Eye”.
Project’s German Partner – OWEN – Mobile Akademie für Geschlechterdemokratie und Friedensförderung e.V.
The project “Arena: Community Theater and Public Art” is supported by the zivik (Civil Conflict Resolution) programme of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa) with means from the German Federal Foreign Office.