A young girl stands in front of the Eiffel Tower. She raised her arms like tourists sometimes do, and in the footage filmed with a smartphone, it looks like she’s holding the Eiffel Tower between her two hands. Suddenly an explosion, screams and clouds of black smoke rise behind her. Another smartphone shot, in a typical Parisian street: a fighter jet drops a bomb on a building. The video continues with other images of Paris in flames, against a backdrop of sirens, crying children and panicked adults. It ends with a message, in English – “Imagine if this happened in another European capital” – and a plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:
“Close the skies over Ukraine or give us more pilots. If we fall, you fall. †
The video surfaced Friday night and quickly flourished on social media, particularly on Ukrainian government accounts. Only on that of the country’s parliament, the video has been viewed more than two million times†
The world was able to speak with the director of this video. French screenwriter, director and film producer who lives in Kiev, Olias Barco woke up Sunday morning to the sound of Russian missiles falling on the Ukrainian military base Yavoriv. It has been several days since he took his wife and children out of the country and went to western Ukraine. Explaining that he didn’t want to appear at first to let the video speak for itself better, he agreed to answer some questions from the moment his name started circulating.
“Shock the West”
“This is not an order from the Ukrainian government”, he insists from the beginning to clarify, to explain, with anger in his voice:
“It’s something I wanted to do myself, with producer Jean-Charles Lévy, to give the West an electric shock. For me we are in a third world war and this conflict will generalize. It’s a science fiction movie, not a propaganda movie. †
The video was shot in Paris and shot last week from Ukraine. Olias Barco could count on the help of a large French company specializing in special effects, which he does not want to name, nor the people he worked with. He wants to spare them the threats he gets on social media. “We were not paid, not funded”he says again.
The video grabs the nerve with its cold realism. Of course there are those familiar landscapes and professional special effects. But if these images are realistic, it is because they are terribly similar to the images that reach us every day from Ukraine, posted on social networks by ordinary citizens who are now living under Russian bombs. The framing is random, the images shake a little, we hear the fear of the person holding the phone when war suddenly appears on the screen.
“I wanted this realistic video because I wanted it to touch the world. I did it in Paris because I’m French, it’s my city”Olias Barco further clarifies:
“I wanted to highlight Parisian monuments while preserving the way of filming that is specific to social networks, to show that it could and would happen in Paris. People I work and live with fall one after another because the sky is filled with rockets and no one is doing anything. I made this movie in anger. We have to intervene, we have to shut down this goddamn heaven. †