“This is a story about real flesh and blood heroes whose actions saved millions of lives,” says director James Motluk. “But in typical Canadian fashion, they remain largely unknown and unsung today.”
In 1945, as the Second World War neared its end, the Allied powers led by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, signed the Yalta Accord, an agreement that, among other things, allowed the USSR to forcibly repatriate any person the Soviets deemed to be a former national. This included over a million Ukrainian refugees stranded in DP (Displaced Person) camps in Germany, many of whom feared that returning to the USSR would mean a one way trip to Siberia.
“They would kidnap people off the streets,” a soldier stationed in Germany at the time, recalls in the documentary. “Because they knew there was nothing anyone could do.”
But a group of Canadian soldiers, led by Flight Lieutenant Bohdan Panchuk, did do something. They lobbied the Allied powers to override Yalta and allow these refugees to resettle in the west. Their efforts were Herculean. Panchuk himself flew to Ottawa in 1945 to make an impassioned plea before the Canadian Senate. Even Eleanor Roosevelt got involved. In the end, hundreds of thousands of refugees were able to escape the grip of the USSR.
Along with exclusive first person accounts, the movie includes rare audio interviews made with Panchuk prior to his death in 1987 as well as never before seen film footage shot by Lieutenant Panchuk while visiting many of the camps in Europe after the war.
Directions Home was funded entirely by OMNI’s Independent Producer’s Initiative.
This is the third in a trilogy of documentaries that James Motluk has produced and directed for OMNI TV on the Ukrainian experience in Canada. The first, Jajo’s Secret, tells the story of the internment of Ukrainians in Canada during World War One. It was followed by Living in the Shadow which documents the relief effort put together in the wake of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. James started in the film and television industry as a writer for the internationally acclaimed TV series Road To Avonlea. In 2001 he received a Media Human Rights Award for his first documentary, Life Under Mike, which was partially funded by Michael Moore.
Guerrilla Films is a boutique production company based in Toronto. For more than a decade the company has been captivating audiences with compelling, award-winning features and documentaries.
For more info, request screeners, set up an interview with James Motluk, contact Guerrilla Releasing; firstname.lastname@example.org