Main hero of illegal mining film savagely beaten
One of the two young heroes of the harrowing film about illegal mines or “kopanki” in the Donbas region, “Pit No. 8, Yura Sikanov” is in urgent need of an operation after being brutally beaten with baseball bats in his home town, Snizhne (Donetsk oblast). The attack took place at the end of October, and Yura has already undergone two operations, but the damage to his jaw is serious, and he needs steel implants. The amount of money involved is, by western standards, small (around 1200 EUR), but is quite prohibitive for the young man who is only now 19.
Yura, and his brother, were working in the illegal mines which in an area of serious poverty provide virtually the only possible work. These mines normally come to the public eye only when a disaster cannot be hushed up (See Black gold mixed with blood).
However they captured public attention in March for a different reason, directly connected with Yura Sikanov and another young man, Dima (now 22), the heroes of the documentary film “Pit No. 8”. Yura’s father committed suicide, his mother is an alcoholic, and Yura provided for himself and two sisters by working in one of the kopanki.
The film was scheduled to be shown and entered in the Docudays.UA Film Festival competition. The abrupt way its removal from the festival was demanded by the official Ukrainian partner Interfilm Production Studio, represented by Olena Fetisova , has prompted many commentators to suggest that pressure was brought to bear to stop the film being shown.
The work on the film took several years: Yura is now 19 and his friend, and the other lad in the film, Dima – 22. The sudden decision by the Ukrainian side to demand the film’s removal was an unpleasant shock for the film’s producer Marianna Kaat from Estonia, as was the assertions from Interfilm that the film was based on invented events.
This was not the message from the film’s producer nor its main heroes – Yura and Dima – who came to Kyiv as very special guests of Docudays.UA. The film had already been shown at 30 festivals and been well-received, with many prizes to its name. It was in Ukraine that they encountered problems, and major ones, with a co-producer suddenly announcing that the film was nonsense and pure fiction.