Walter Hoydysh copied film recordings that his father took in the Ukraine in 1938 and during the 1950’s in New York, a time when film was still considered to be Avant-Garde. Walter’s father lived in Paris in the 1930’s. During WWI, he actually rode with the Austro-Hungarian cavalry. In 1938, he filmed his home in the eastern part of the Ukraine. The other film recordings are from the 1950’s after his family had already immigrated to New York. At the end of the war, many Ukrainian families fled to Berlin escaping the Soviet army. In order to immigrate to New York, one needed a sponsor , who would pledge to take care of the immigrants during their first several weeks. That is how the old hiarchies reversed themselves, as those who were less fortunate, and who left the Ukraine due to poverty, were already established. They were able to sponsor the immigrants who came to the US after WWII and who, in the Ukraine, belonged to the elite class. Walter’s family was taken in by his grandparents’ former servant.
Walter hasn’t yet wanted to visit modern-day Ukraine because he wants to preserve the country that exists in his memory and imagination.
Justyn gives me a song. This song is played and sung at funerals, and Ukrainians living in the Diaspora also play and sing this song at funerals.
Walter, Justyn and I are sitting at big dark table in the Ukrainian Institute. It occurred to them that their image of the country is an image of the past. We all three became a bit melancholy.