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A student’s powerful short film about Ukrainian lives in the UK

Newtown College student Larysa Arkhypenko, known at college as Lora, has produced a powerful documentary telling the stories of resilient Ukrainians making new lives in the UK

Lora, currently completing an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course, has also successfully completed the Level 4 Professional Diploma in Technical and Production Practice for Creative Industries at Newtown College. She produced the short film as part of her Level 4 studies, choosing to capture the feelings and experiences of Ukrainians as they build new lives here in the UK.

Lora is from Odesa in Southern Ukraine. She arrived in the UK in May 2022. Like many other Ukrainians now living here she came to Britain predominately for two reasons – it is the closest English-speaking country to Ukraine and has an education system with a very good reputation, which was important to Lora as she has a daughter of school age.

Speaking to Lora about coming to Wales she said: “We found an amazing family who live on the border with Wales and invited us here and then we didn’t think about any other places, we just wanted to be in a safe place.”

The film tells the stories of different families and about the problems they have and how they are solving them and continuing to live. It focuses on the lives of women in particular because they have been facing new challenges.

Discussing the film, Lora said: “This is the story of my people and their lives. I wanted to show how Ukrainians are powerful. This power is inside and it doesn’t matter where they are – in Ukraine or outside of Ukraine. I decided to show how Ukrainians are coping in the UK because I am here and one day my life along with so many others just changed.”

She went on to say: “Of course, I worry about everything that is happening in my country and outside with Ukrainian families, but this is the thing that I can do right now. I can remind the whole world again about it, to remind them that this is still going on. I think everybody starts to forget about it. But this is my world and the world of all Ukrainian people, one that collapsed suddenly and has changed.”

Lora plans to apply to organise screenings of the film to raise money in order to make applications to film festivals to reach a wider audience.

Newtown College Media Lecturer Steve Bellis said: “Lora has demonstrated skill and determination to produce such a powerful film worthy of mainstream viewing. It’s not only an incredible story but has been structured and filmed by Lora with such professionalism.”

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