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THE FULLNESS OF TIME: Ukrainian Stories from Alberta
Director Diary
Halya Kuchmij

Twenty years ago I produced and directed my very first independent documentary film entitled "THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD". It was very much a labour of love -- the bittersweet story of Michael Swistun, a Ukrainian-Canadian strongman/magician from rural Manitoba, who toured western Canada during the Depression with his one-man show. Narrated by Jack Palance, the film would go on to win the GENIE award ("Best Theatrical Short") and miraculously catapult my career into documentary filmmaking. Looking back now, I realize that it was a pivotal film for me in so many ways.

"THE FULLNESS OF TIME" has brought me back full circle to that very first film, in that it also tells the story of those first Ukrainian immigrants who settled in western Canada. Set in north-eastern Alberta, the film unfolds as poetic narrative, using stunning prairie images, evocative music, rare archival footage and compelling dramatic stories told by Edmonton filmmaker-writer Harvey Spak. The result is an emotional tapestry that weaves together the joyous and tragic stories of those first immigrants.

As a filmmaker, "THE FULLNESS OF TIME" represents a return to a theme which is dear to my heart and which reflects my roots as a Ukrainian-Canadian. Though my parents emigrated to eastern Canada after the second World War, I feel an intuitive connection with those first Ukrainian immigrants and I feel compelled to tell their stories. When we were out west filming this past fall, I once again felt a strong connection to the land and the people who had settled there so many years ago. In many ways I feel that I am part of that collective consciousness, and that those first Ukrainian immigrants are spiritual ancestors. I hope that "THE FULLNESS OF TIME" honours their memories.


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