Viva Belarus!, a film based on the true story of Franak Viacorka, RFE/RL journalist and its first Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, held its North American premiere this week at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Endowment for Democracy, RFE/RL reports.
Viva Belarus! was co-written by Viacorka with director Krzystof Lukaszewicz and depicts the life of nonconformist youth living in “Europe’s last dictatorship.”
The groundbreaking movie — the first feature film about the political situation in Belarus — tells the story of 23-year old Miron, whose true passion is music. When his concert triggers an anti-regime protest, Miron is held responsible. Despite a heart condition, he is forcibly drafted into the army to serve in a remote region within the Chernobyl fallout zone. After accessing a hidden mobile phone, Miron informs his girlfriend Viera about the day-to-day life of a conscript, which includes brainwashing, brutality, and horrible living conditions. The diary is posted online and becomes a sensation, prompting the regime to try to discredit Miron and crush his spirit.
“The film is about human dignity, and it shows the line of tolerance behind which humiliation of dignity leads to desperate fight for freedom,” said Viacorka. “The regime in Belarus is founded on fear: fear to lose one’s job, to be expelled from university or imprisoned for political disloyalty, to use our native Belarusian language in russificated Belarus. Viva Belarus! shows how young people fight these fears with assistance from the Internet, new media, and solidarity.”