Alone explores the existential pain of Ukraine through the eyes of an unlikely protagonist, one of the country’s most commercially successful pop stars. Andrei Khluvniuk, lead singer of hip-hop rock outfit Boombox, has millions of devoted young fans who adore him as a singer songwriter and sex symbol but know nothing of his personal turmoil caused by the political instability and naked aggression his homeland faces. Andrei is on a mission; to raise awareness and motivate his fans to join him in taking a stand against the war in the east of Ukraine, stolen territories annexed by the Kremlin and the dozens of political prisoners held in Russian jails. As tensions between Ukraine and Russia become a footnote on the world’s media agenda, he’s determined to use his fame and talents to refocus the global spotlight on the fragile independence his country is literally fighting for.
In the company of internationally acclaimed artist activists, Natalia Kaliada and Nikolai Khalezin from Belarus Free Theatre, Andrei embarks on a journey of personal discovery witnessing how dissidents and campaigners from across Europe use performance to protest in support of basic human rights and as a catalyst for social change. He experiences how Belarus Free Theatre are forced to stage underground productions where actors and audience alike risk arrest and persecution at the hands of dictator Lukashenko’s repressive KGB forces. He gains insight into how personal stories are woven into the creative process alongside Masha from Pussy Riot as an emotionally wrecking and physically gruelling theatre production is developed and staged. He meets survivors of torture, hears the tragic stories of political refugees and begins to shape an ambitious personal statement on a huge logistical scale; staging a stadium size rigged concert to nobody but the land where the illegal military border established by Russia now lies with the annexation of Crimea. His goal; to support the release of Ukrainian political prisoner, Oleg Senstov, serving 20 years on false charges of terrorism in a Siberian jail and at the time of filming, over 50 days on hunger strike.
Alone is the story of how music and art can be used in as a language of protest and inspire hope and reconciliation. As the title of one of Andrei’s signature hits, a simple love song, the lyrics of Alone take on a powerful metaphor about heartbreak, sacrifice and his dreams for his children, his people and his country. Alone is a powerful and moving documentary that is lent a sensitivity and insight not least by the directorial debut of Natalia Kaliada whose personal experience of being forced into exile helps navigate both Andrei’s political crusade as well as unforeseen events that threaten to undermine the whole protest. Alone is made in collaboration with two-time Emmy award winner and twice BAFTA-nominated documentary producer, Andrew Smith and Belarus Free Theatre Artistic Director, Nikolai Khalezin.
“The cast of young actors, all deeply committed to the performance with the frantic energy of extreme situations. It is the circumstances in which they have to survive that result in this minimum of pauses, the flexibility of bodies, the abstinence of existence ready for any form of conspiration”
Liberation, 22 May 2007