Almost Holy —formerly Crocodile Gennadiy. A Buffalo Premiere!
Ticket Information: Free and Open to the Public
• Stop in early for FREE Breadhive granola while supplies last! •
• Bring your ticket stubs and join us at The Black Sheep
after the show for 2 for 1 drink specials •
courtesy of press kit:
Gennadiy Mokhnenko has made a name for himself by forcibly abducting homeless drugaddicted kids from the streets of Mariupol, Ukraine. As his country leans towards a European Union inclusion, hopes of continued post-Soviet revitalization seem possible. In the meantime, Gennadiy’s center has evolved into a more nebulous institution.
I wanted Crocodile Gennadiy to have the characteristics of a narrative film, for the story to be told through the use of vérité scenes and natural dialogue. I developed a strategy with my crew to accomplish this goal, which informed our decisions and reactions to unforeseeable circumstances in the field. Our crew believes that content is more important than cinematics, but we’re passionate about filming with proficiency.
The journey of this film began in 2012 when some of my co-workers were commissioned to do a promotional video in Ukraine. While in Mariupol, they met Gennadiy Mokhnenko and spent a few days with him. After listening to his stories and witnessing his amorphous work, they returned with enthusiasm and proposed doing a feature length non-fiction film on Gennadiy. I wasn’t interested in the idea until they shared raw footage with me and further explained some of the context. I was struck by the character of Gennadiy.
Once in Ukraine, we encountered many challenges, the most obvious being that we don’t speak Russian. With the exception of the main subject’s broken English, almost all of the dialogue was Russian. While shooting, we relied heavily on a translator, observation and the main subjects limited explanations of events. We had four cameras, two of them were constantly rolling. We committed to filming everything we possibly could, which made for a difficult but rewarding post process.
My life has changed radically throughout the making of this film. Formerly, I was Christian, or I at least identified as one, but I no longer am. There’s a lot to the story. I was raised in a religiously apathetic, broken, Catholic family. I converted to a nondenominational church in college. To me, faith was a solution to the existential confusion I found myself in after a long, overindulgence in psychotropic drugs, which spanned my adolescence. As a teenager, I was obsessed with hallucinating and the drugs were boundless. The faith eventually helped me to pull myself together, giving me guidance, discipline and a moral framework, all of which I didn’t really have beforehand.It also dispelled an attraction I had to heroin. I had never used heroin, but I was always seduced by the idea and a step away from it, along with several friends who came to die from overdoses. My college roommate at the time was dealing and coaxing me with free dope. He has since overdosed and died.
Gennadiy’s former work with drug addled street kids in Ukraine struck a chord with my darker past. Had I been born in Mariupol, Gennadiy would have had me by the collar. I found deeper interest however, not in the kids I empathized with, but in a character I didn’t understand. The story could have gone in many different directions.
Eventually, I found myself standing in a van while our crew was being attacked by an angry Pro-Russian mob in Ukraine. I was both terrified and calm. I knew that if we made it out of the situation, my life would change – this time in a different way. Up until that point, for several years I had resisted coming to terms with the fact that my beliefs had changed. My cultural liberalism didn’t align with the faith, no matter how hard I tried to squeeze it in. I had grown weary of the behavior and practices of the church that I was a part of and increasingly uncomfortable with the social pressures that some of the members were asserting on me.
The van broke through the mob and after a short car chase, I found myself resolute. I would embrace my worldview and move on. I spent the remainder of the year, mostly alone with the edit. Working on the edit of the film was a means of catharsis for me.
Though the making of this film had a distinctive effect on my life personally, this is definitely not a call to action film; if anything, it’s more of a portrait. It is something to look at, reflect on and discuss. In light of current events, I hope it gives people a reason to research the conflict in Ukraine. Although this film isn’t designed to be a political tool, it has obvious relevance to the turmoil between The EU, Russia and Ukraine and offers some context. After the recent fall of Debaltseve, Mariupol is rumored to be the next target for the Pro-Russian forces. The film could develop additional relevance as the conflict progresses.
While the film was in development, I was told by different establishments that there was some controversy surrounding the film. Some felt the portrayal of Gennadiy was too objective and people wanted to know “how the director felt about him.” Some liked Gennadiy, while others were disapproving. I believe Gennadiy is confounding, so I wasn’t comfortable telling people how to think and feel about him. I wanted to show the complicated nature of this character and the world he lives in.
Steve Hoover made his feature film directorial debut in 2013 with Blood Brother, which won both Audience and Grand Jury Award at Sundance 2013. Also that year, he had co-directed an award-winning documentary short film entitled Seven Days. Crocodile Gennadiy will be Steve’s second feature. Hoover has also had a successful career in commercial campaigns. Currently, he is a commercial director at Animal.
LinksHere is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:
1/26/16 – “In Almost Holy [formally Crocodile Gennadiy], what begins as an astounding, morally murky portrait of a man subverting inert government organizations to rescue abused children morphs into a something more akin to a unraveling sketch of a man clutching his overflowing family, bracing for the waves of political unrest that are guaranteed to turn his life upside down.” Jordan M. Smith, IONCINEMA.com – link
2/10/16 – This happened to the production crew while finishing production on Almost Holy [formally Crocodile Gennadiy], in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 15, 2014. – link
2/23/16 – Earlier this month Almost Holy [formally Crocodile Gennadiy] was named the Best Documentary at the Social Impact Media Awards (SIMA)! – link
3/16/16 – CCC alum Almost Holy has finally been re-christened with its new title as well as new release date of May 20th, 2016 – link
4/19/16 – New American release trailer:
7/15/16 – The soundtrack for Almost Holy will be available from Sacred Bones on August 19th, 2016 – link