New two part documentary series tells the story of the first year of the war in Ukraine, through the lens of conflict photojournalist David Pratt
In March 2022, with Russian tanks still surrounding Kyiv, veteran photojournalist David Pratt travelled to Ukraine along with documentary maker Robbie Fraser.
Their intention: to bear witness to the biggest unfolding crisis in Europe since World War 2.
A new two part documentary series from BBC Scotland, “Pictures From Ukraine”, tells the story of this and their subsequent journeys to the country during the first year of the war.
The films form a compelling chronicle of the conflict so far, and a vital insight into its origins.
In part one, after crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border against a tide of refugees, David travels to Lviv.
The city is tense but relatively peaceful.
Buildings and monuments are covered up against attack, and the train station is jammed with refugees.
A Russian missile strike soon shatters any illusion of calm.
David meets Vika, a refugee who has just fled from Mariupol.
She tells her story in a devastating interview.
She describes how her world fell apart during the Russian assault: her father injured by shrapnel, and her desperate struggle to survive.
David undertakes the perilous journey to Kyiv itself.
Travelling by road in a small aid convoy, David finds a ghost town which seems to have been afflicted by ‘an invisible pestilence’.
He witnesses the aftermath of Russian strikes; sees civilians still living in underground stations; and visits Maidan Square, site of the bloody 2014 protests against Ukraine’s then pro-Russian government.
David’s Ukrainian colleague Olya was there as an eye witness and participant, and tells the story of what happened.
As David leaves, the Ukrainians are defiant; but their resistance is hanging by a thread.
In part two, David travels back to Kyiv.
It’s the summer of 2022 and the Ukrainians have defied the odds.
The Russians have been pushed back around the capital, but they have wreaked chaos in the east and south.
David visits the towns around Kyiv whose names have become synonymous with Russian brutality: Borodyanka, Moschun, and Bucha.
David heads south to the front line city of Mykolaiv where there are rumours of a massive impending battle over the neighbouring town of Kherson.
There he finds an edgy, devastated town.
He interviews Valentyn, a volunteer Ukrainian soldier who seems to exemplify his country’s spirit of resistance.
These films are the latest in a returning series which is a collaboration between David Pratt and Robbie Fraser, called ‘Pictures From…’ Previous episodes include documentaries set in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, and are produced by Dulcimer Films for BBC Scotland.
David Pratt says:
“My connection with Ukraine goes back many years as these films reflect.
“But above all they are about a war that is very much ongoing, one that directly or indirectly is impacting on all our lives.
“The ‘Pictures From…’ series has always looked at conflict through the prism of the stills image which has that unique quality to capture a moment in time and make us pause and ponder that moment.
“Pictures From Ukraine does precisely that.”
Robbie Fraser says:
“As always it’s a privilege to travel with David, and to have been welcomed by the Ukrainian people at a time of such struggle.
“News coverage these days can become a blur.
“Our goal with these films is to re-tell with clarity and immediacy the story of the last year in Ukraine, and give audiences a longer view of the fight.”
Both parts of ‘Pictures from Ukraine’ will be available to watch on iPlayer from Monday February 20, 2023 in time for the first anniversary of the war.
The films will receive their broadcast premieres on BBC Scotland, on March 14 and March 21, 2023.