Baba Babee Skazala
The little-known story of Ukrainian children torn from their homes in the crush between the Nazi and Soviet fronts in World War II. Spending their childhood as refugees in Europe, these inspiring individuals later immigrated to the United States, creating new homes and communities through their grit, faith and deep belief in the importance of preserving culture.
Baba Babee Skazala [Grandmother Told Grandmother] tells the little-known story of Ukrainian children torn from their homes in the crush between the Nazi and Soviet fronts in World War II. This film preserves and shares the ancestral legacies of American immigrant post-WWII Ukrainian Displaced Persons, whose stories manifest individual and community resilience in the journey to find “home” when their homes, and often family, were taken from them. Baba Babee Skazala tells the stories of this group, through their own words, as they created “community” in the DP camps that supported their efforts to create new homes in America.
“Ukraine” translates as “borderlands.” Ukraine’s borders are often challenged, as they currently are by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ongoing disputes along the eastern border. The last war that massively displaced Ukrainians from their homes was World War II. Ukraine was not then a sovereign state, but approximately 2 million Ukrainians were stranded in Western Europe by the war’s end. Though many were returned to Ukraine, often forcibly, approximately 200,000 ended up in Displaced Person (“DP”) camps, later immigrating to the Americas and elsewhere. Their challenges, in the DP camps and in establishing new “homes,” help us better understand how immigrant experiences influence American society.
The experiences of these children, now senior citizens, are not well-known outside the Ukrainian diaspora; Baba Babee Skazala seeks to change that. This documentary is the culmination of over 30 oral history interviews uncovering the experiences of these survivors; some of them have passed away since the making of this film. Baba Babee Skazala includes previously unseen archival materials from the National Film Archives in Ukraine as well as material from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute collection. Rutgers University professor, Dr. Alexander Motyl, a renowned expert in this field, provides historic background for the film.
The current displacement of Ukrainians due to events in eastern Ukraine, and Europe’s challenges in responding to an influx of refugees from other countries resonate, reminding us that “history repeats itself.” Baba Babee Skazala shares the legacy of these WWII DPs, whose oral communications contributed to community resilience in times of adversity, experiences that are particularly salient given current conversations about immigrants, refugees, race and culture.
We want our working process to bring attention to this group of people and their stories, and to encourage others to share their stories. That is why we are so excited about collaborating with the Ukrainian-Museum Archives and also why we are bringing attention to this project on social media. We hope our efforts will engage the community in the critical effort to preserve the stories and memories of this amazing group of people. Here, in addition to our trailer, are interview clips you can also find on our social media platforms:
Filming interviews and creating a documentary film from that interview footage is complex and expensive. The costs of travel, equipment, translations and transcriptions, insurance and licensing rights for music & archival footage add up quickly. All of that is before considering the actual filmmaking costs, especially production and post-production costs that will drive whether or not the final product is compelling enough to share the stories of this important group of people with an audience beyond the current generations of the Ukrainian diaspora and outside the Ukrainian community. We have kept costs well below initial budget projections, and are now funding promotion of the film. We've included an updated chart of actual costs to date (June 2019) and remaining budget projections.
We knew that it would take time to raise the necessary funds, but firmly believed the interviews should not be delayed in order to complete as many as possible. Because of this, our team did not take any pay and our Director contributed a substantial amount of personal savings to advance this project.
Here is a chart showing fundraising sources & donations to date (June 2019), totaling approximately $30,000, plus $10,000 from sales of items on our Etsy store.