In the Works: GENNADIY

The team behind the Sundance award-winning BLOOD BROTHER turn their attention to another man attempting to make a difference in he lives of children on the margins.

gennadiyGennadiy Mokhnenko has made it his mission to rescue the abandoned kids of Ukraine – the more than 100,000 street children who struggle to survive, often addicted to alcohol and other drugs. In his city of Mariupal, Gennadiy runs an orphanage, but in the face of often corrupt official channels, it’s hard to help as many kids as he’d like to. In response, he’s taken matters into his own hands, roaming the city at night and abducting children, forcing them to go through detox. Using a decade of archival material as well as their own original footage, director/editor Steve Hoover, working again with producer Danny Yourd and cinematographer John Pope, reveal the complexity, and controversy, behind Gennadiy’s extreme activism.

Hoover and his team are currently nearing the end of what looks to be a successful Kickstarter campaign for production funding. At the time of this writing, they’re only a few backers away from hitting their $40,000 target, and they have more than a week to go to raise additional needed funds. For more information and to join the mailing list for project updates, visit the doc’s website.

BLOOD BROTHER has already demonstrated that this team shares a sensitivity with the plight of marginalized children and the ability to craft an engaging story around those who make personal sacrifices to aid them. But where that film’s protagonist, Rocky, may have faced obstacles borne out of cultural differences, he didn’t tread over ethical lines to care for his charges. Their new subject, working within his own culture and society, nevertheless comes up against systemic barricades to change, and adopts vigilante tactics to deal with them. In the process, Hoover’s portrait promises to ask difficult questions about the limits of humanitarianism, the ethical and moral quandaries of direct action, and the impact a single, driven man, can have on his society. If there’s one quibble I have with the project – something already mentioned to the filmmakers – it’s that the title is unnecessarily challenging. Their protagonist is not a household name, so using it as the film’s title makes its content more or less undecipherable to a casual observer, and additionally portends future typos given its unusual spelling. It’s fine for the time being as a working title, but the project would very much benefit from a more descriptive final title before it reaches larger audiences.

Note: If you have a feature documentary currently in production or post-production and would like to be considered for an In the Works profile, tell me about it here.

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