Documentary on internment operations of 1914-1920 now available on DVD


MONTREAL - The award-winning documentary "Freedom Had a Price" depicting Canada's first internment operation between 1914 and 1920 has been released on DVD by the National Film Board of Canada.

Produced and directed by filmmaker Yurij Luhovy, the one-hour film documents the over 5,000 Ukrainians in Canada who were imprisoned as "enemy aliens" in 24 internment camps across the country.

Filmed on former locations of internment sites across Canada, this documentary shows the remains of original internment structures and relics discovered by the film crew. By means of archival footage, vintage photographs, and the compelling testimony of survivors and prominent Canadian historians, the film captures a moving, human story that has finally gained public attention.

Mr. Luhovy first began researching the internment of Ukrainians in Canada in the early 1970s when interest in this aspect of Ukrainian Canadian history was just beginning. He was the first person to find and film many of the original internment sites and found original internment photos of the Spirit Lake internment site in Quebec which he donated to the National Archives of Canada.

His documentary also provided impetus for making the traveling internment exhibit by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center in Toronto and provided an important resource for the illustrated book, "Silver Threads" by writer Marsha Skrypuch.

Initially, the idea and urgency of making the internment film "Freedom Had a Price" did not receive immediate financial support. As a result, not to lose time in order to interview some of the last internment survivors before they passed away, the documentary was financed almost entirely by the filmmaker with later supporting grants from the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center and completion funds from The National Film Board of Canada.

Don Haig, executive producer of NFB's Studio B, made every effort to support the internment documentary in the final stages, having grown up with Ukrainians in Western Canada and, therefore, being very informed and sensitive to their story of settling Canada.

"Freedom Had a Price" continues to be shown across Canada and is highly recommended for use in schools across the country as a teaching resource on the subject or for anyone interested in historical documentaries. It has had excellent reviews in various Canadian newspapers with such comments as "extraordinary documentary" - Jim Bowden, in The Toronto Star; "a powerful documentary on Ukrainian internment" - Alan Kellog in The Edmonton Journal, "chilling portrait of national security gone wrong" - Kennedy Gordon in The Sudbury Star; and "significant impact in raising awareness about the internment camps" - John Gregorovich in the University of Toronto Varsity.

Mr. Luhovy, who is a member of the Canadian Film and Television Academy, is presently working on two new documentaries dealing with 20th century history and based on first-hand survivors' stories that have been almost forgotten and never yet filmed.

"Freedom Had a Price," is available to anyone interested in the history of Ukrainians and may be obtained on VHS or DVD format by writing to La Maison de Montage Luhovy Inc, 2330 Beaconsfield Ave., Montreal, Quebec, H4A 2G8; e-mailing mmlinc@hotmail.com; or calling (514) 481-5871. The French-and Ukrainian-language versions of the documentary are still in the completion stage awaiting funds.


Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 30, 2006, No. 18, Vol. LXXIV


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