Myth (film)

2018 film

«Myth» is the Ukrainian documentary film of 2018, which was filmed by Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasnii. The film depicts the life of Ukrainian Vasyl Slipak, the Hero of Ukraine, the Knight of Orders «For Courage» (I stupin) and the Golden Star, a world-famous opera singer, soloist of the Parisian National Opera, who left the big stage to become a warrior and gave life, defending Ukraine during the Russian-Ukrainian War in the East of Ukraine.


  • With war, we often create distance between heroes and ourselves. But I believe that heroes are ordinary and they are among us and I wanted to explore that through Myth. (2018)
  • Noted that prescreening of “Myth” in Washington, DC, where all important US political decisions are taken, had special significance. He also highlighted that the documentary was about love to one’s native land that was worth of the highest possible self-sacrifice. (2018)
  • We’ve announced on the Internet that we need help. We asked [people] to send us some fragments of footage or photos. Everything that is connected to Vasyl Slipak. And we received donations from all over the world. Sometimes it was only a few seconds of footage shot from some kind of camera or a phone. (2018)
  • Leonid Kanter, Co-Director of “Myth”

UATV English (2018) From Stage to the Front Line: Ukrainian Filmmakers Honor the Memory of Vasyl Slipak.

  • Our film turned out to be really diverse because it’s about Vasyl. We’ve all come to terms with his death a long time ago and then he became so familiar and alive for us, because we have worked on the video where he smiles at us for many days. (2018)
  • Animation will emphasize that Vasyl was a big child. I don’t know whether he was aware of what was happening to him and its consequences but his perception was childlike. (2018)
  • When Leonid arrived to shoot the movie, all the commanders were suspicious at first. They didn’t believe that he’s shooting a film. They thought he was investigating Slipak’s death. (2018)
  • Very strong impressions. I think that everyone should watch this movie somehow. Such a valuable person cared and went to war. (2018)
  • Four years ago, during the seemingly never-ending funeral processions that saw casket after casket float out on a sea of cellphone lights on Independence Square while thousands chanted “heroes never die” in unison, Myth was in France, part of the Ukrainian ex-pat community slowly coming to the realization that he could not sing freely on European stages while his countrymen were fighting back home. I’m not sure how much distance there actually is between hero and Myth, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect on it again here in Toronto, where those chants that once rattled our eardrums and shook our perceptions of ourselves and our fates seem more distant every day. (2018)
  • Ambassador Valeriy Chaly thanked the audience of the event for their support for Ukraine and their interest to a new film as well as expressed appreciation to directors and crew for creating the documentary that allowed to feel and understand better the events in Ukraine related to the Russian aggression. (2018)
  • But despite the film’s title, the co-directors Leonid Kanter and Ilya Yasniy abstained from overt mythmaking. Instead, they created a nuanced, multifaceted profile of Wassyl Slipak, the Ukrainian opera singer who abandoned his life in Paris to fight and, ultimately, die for his country. The result is an unexpectedly touching, at times meditative reflection on both Slipak himself and the nature of sacrifice and war. The film includes extensive interviews with Slipak’s ex-girlfriend Liza, who appears to be from Russia. In essence, the opera singer chose the Ukrainian armed forces over her, a decision that she cannot entirely comprehend. Yet instead of the potential political significance of the decision, the directors focus on the human side of the story. The documentary presents Slipak as an over-the-top, maximalist personality. Yet it also does not shy away from his shortcomings. Soldiers in his battalion admit that he probably wasn’t the best fighter in the group. Friends admit to not entirely understanding his decisions. However, the most chilling moment of the film comes near the end. When Slipak was hit by sniper fire, one of his comrades-in-arms had a camera running. While we don’t see Slipak being shot, we do see the other soldiers’ frantic and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to resuscitate him. (2018)
  • It was hard to watch the movie. Sometimes you feel that your heart is breaking. But we have to live on and to rethink everything that has happened to us, as a society. The story of heroism and self-sacrifice makes everyone think over their own lives. After each such death we lose part of our self, however, such documentaries make us stronger. The cinema was packed and the viewers – mostly Kharkiv activists, volunteers and soldiers – were standing in the aisles as well to see the film. (2018)
  • The documentary film about his life is titled Myth and interestingly the title is a play on words. In Ukrainian, the word is “Mif”, which is also the nom de guerre that Slipak took on when he went into combat. It was the shortened form in Ukrainian of Mephistopheles, his favourite operatic role in his stint with the Paris opera. Ironically it symbolically reflects his real-life transition from an operatic hero to a tragic real life hero. The film is not your standard documentary of a war hero, nor does it indulge in a hagiographic interpretation of his life. It avoids idolizing Slipak, showing a man who, though a world class talent with a penchant for sacrifice and heroism, was still very human, and at times prone to mischief and self-indulgence. When he left Paris to go fight the Russians in the Donbas, he not only abandoned his promising operatic career, but also broke the heart of a woman with whom he had a deep love affair. In many ways he was larger than life, and to more normal humans like myself, it can be hard to understand the motivations and passions that drove him to do what he did. Heroes are often enigmatic creatures, driven to do extraordinary things by an inspiration that transcends standard human reality. Whatever the case, there can be little doubt that Slipak’s extraordinary life story is worthy of literary and artistic treatment. It is a story that is rapidly and deservingly evolving into the realm of mythology, both in Ukraine and in the diaspora. The great American expert on mythology, Joseph Campbell developed the concept of “the hero’s journey” as a process of “following your bliss”, and Slipak’s own heroic journey towards becoming a myth is a good reflection of this ideal. As Campbell once said, “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves, and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” (2018)
  • Volodymyr Kish, Toronto, Ontario, journalist New Pathway Ukrainian News (2018) [1]