The name itself conjures images of tragedy and horror. It is also a place of gladness, resilience, and hope.
Bucha. The name brings to mind pictures and news of atrocities and brutality at the hand of Russian soldiers. Putin’s invading force. The “crazy” Russians as folks around here are apt to say as opposed to the “normal” Russians, which differentiates the stories neighbors tell one another about their captors.
All who stayed here during the period when the Russian armor poured in have stories that share many attributes and timelines. Like two weeks of seeing missiles and rockets fly overhead and land near and far. Like two days of many loved ones being bound and gagged as their homes were ransacked looking for weapons. Like neighbors being shot by snipers and armored personnel carriers parked in front of their homes. Like living in their basements with parents, grandparents, and children. And just feeling lucky to survive and glad the invaders are gone.
The footage from our drive and walk around Bucha takes two forms. The first will bring a sense of déjà vu as they are the same sights carried by the international press, which is now largely gone. The second are glimpses of life rarely broadcast. Scenes of trashed apartments, neighbors cooking over open fires day in and day out simply to eat, stay warm, and share each other’s company. Exploring catacombs of basements where they took shelter for weeks on end and where children’s drawings still decorate the walls. An interview with an insurance agent that was bound and gagged, shot in the leg, and then evacuated 5 days later when a “green light” was given. An interview in a junkyard with a man rummaging through a shot-up vehicle whose mother was killed and father shot while driving–the first time the man had seen the wreckage of his family’s forever altered life in the form of a bullet-riddled van.
The images in the video speak for themselves. What also hopefully starts to emerge is the hope that comes from the spirit of those that remained–and those that are returning. Glad the Russians are gone but uncertain that they may be coming back, and not willing to celebrate as the nation remains at war and all Ukrainians’ minds are focused on Mariupol. Especially perhaps the survivors of Bucha.
A Note to Our Readers
You may notice that there is no video attached to today’s post. This is because Bucha’s infrastructure is still severely impacted and is still without internet access except via cell phone data which runs at 3G or LTE and is at best a bit spotty. Therefore, it is proving next to impossible to upload the daily footage feeds to Amit Nepali in Kathmandu who does the daily edits of the footage from the previous day(s). Therefore, the Way to Bucha post of me making my way to the Victoria Park Hotel in Bucha (where I am still) will be the last of these daily posts and videos. I am however still acquiring new footage including a trip to Irpin. Therefore, the next video you can expect to see from us is a preliminary version of the film’s trailer after I return to the United States on April 25th. And thanks very much for reading and following these posts. It is your support that keeps us going.