Civilians are checking for Ukrainian males that may not be joining the war effort. I have a foreign accent and an Austrian passport so they let us get on our way.
I love Kyiv. It is one of the world’s best kept secrets. It is a beautiful and big city full of passion and culture. The place where Fiddler on the Roof comes from. That story was written in Kyiv and it was set in a village just outside Kyiv. I used to come and go from Kyiv since December 2007 when Jacques and I first came here and met Michael. And then about six years ago we bought an apartment there. Well, three of them actually, and joined them all together. It is a quite a pad. Not sure we will ever see it again. I hope I do. We loved that place. It was absolutely stunning. A work of art. We were very lucky.
In 2018 and 2019 we made a short concept film that celebrated Kyiv and the IT entrepreneurs there, and the spirit and passion of Ukraine. We were meant to shoot the film in 2020. I will never forget the date. It was April 6 2020. We had been preparing for over 18 months. Craig was meant to land in Kyiv that day and the small cool crew here of camera guys and sound dudes were locked and loaded. The pandemic hit the world a few months before and the film project, like so many other things in the world, had to press pause. We were then planning to start again this year. Craig was gonna fly here in May and we would continue. And now, the world changed yet again.
It is a whole different story now. We were working on a narrative that explored old Soviet culture and how it shaped modern Ukrainian entrepreneurs and the tech world here. War though is a different proposition.
The cars shook
When we were leaving Kyiv on Friday morning it took us two hours to drive the first 50km. Tanks were coming into the city and soldiers in big military vehicles, on the opposite of the road. These were the Ukrainian soldiers going to fight. Fighter jets were flying overhead, and bomb blasts were heard and all the cars shook. There was fear in the air and all of us were sweating non-stop. It was surreal.
In the end, it took us around 17 hours to drive 500km. I did not eat for two days. Just sips of water to try sooth the dryness in my mouth. I had no appetite at all. We did not stop once and when we arrived we literally collapsed. The last three hours of the drive, was on makeshift country back roads, filled with potholes, that South Africans would be shocked by.