When in Minsk for the Listapad film festival, I met with several filmmakers, who presented their projects to me to seek advice. One of them was Volia Chajkouskaya, who provided me with a link to “Crossroads”, the winner of the 2014 Belarussian National Documentary Competition, a film in which she was the assistant director. She sent this text to me about the theme and its main character:
“The film “Crossroads” was conceived as a charity project to help the homeless artist Valery Liashkevich. It became a discovery to me that a person deprived of basic comforts of life can strive to his goal so persistently, remain a philosopher, be thoughtful about his actions, preserve kindness to others. I was not alone in this discovery. The character charmed all members of the crew. No one questioned investing time and their own money (the documentary was created without financial support of any organization) into the production. Art historians joined our work. The National Art Museum of Belarus organized an exhibition of Valery Liashkevich’s works; it lasted three weeks and became a huge success. Another exhibition was held in Gomel, the native city of our character. “Crossroads” became a project, which continues even after the work on the documentary is complete. I hope that the life of the character is changing to the better with our help. The proceeds of the sale of his paintings went on to his bank account and we hope that in the very near future Valery Lyashkevich will have a place he can call HOME…”.
So, call that a commitment! I watched the film and can only second, what is written above. Valery Liashkevich is a sweet, modest man, a fine artist, who sells his works in the streets and tells people that they can get them cheaper if they wish! You see him at the railway station in Gomel during winter and spring, he works and sleeps there, you see him in St. Petersburg (photo) on Nevsky Prospekt, you see how he finds a place to sleep at night, you listen to his wise words and watch him fall asleep among his works. He is weak, I am getting older he says. A small film with a big heart!
Belarus, 2014, 62 mins.