Essential Pittsburgh
5:36 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Filmmakers Get Caught Up in Ukraine-Russian Conflict

What began as a trip to Ukraine to work on a documentary called "Gennadiy," about drug-addicted street children, turned into a near-death experience for Pittsburgh-based filmmakers Filipp Velgach and Steve Hoover.

Velgach and Hoover were targeted by a pro-Russian mob while filming at the end of a demonstration.

“Shortly after we got there, and the rumors started circulating that we were American journalists as opposed to American documentary makers. And therefore suggesting we probably had some sort of political agenda for being there and filming the rally," Velgach said. "The rumors grew more aggressive and people started approaching us, saying we're Americans, and 'All of the issues in Ukraine are because of Americans,' and 'We don't like Americans.' And that escalated pretty quickly into us being attacked."

Hoover wrote about the experience for Vice Media and included video of the attack taken by a bystander in the crowd:

Hoover said during the build-up to the confrontation there was confusion about whether they should be filming.

"I kind of put my camera down because usually when people look angry you don't want to film them unless you have a lot of guts to hold the camera and keep going, but (one protester) was getting angry that I wasn't filming."

Velgach added: "They had thought for a moment that we had stopped shooting because they were a pro-Russian rally, there's a lot of confusion actually in the video that we had shot. We heard two different people saying two different things. One person was angry that we were shooting the rally and another person was angry that we had stopped shooting the rally. So there was a lot of confusion both aimed at us and between the rally-goers themselves."

For more information on the "Gennadiy" Documentary check out the film's Vimeo account.

Ukraine Attack from "Gennadiy" Documentary on Vimeo.