About the Film
Based on the true story of Franak Viachorka and Belarusian youth activists, the film Viva Belarus! depicts the life and fate of nonconformist youth living in “Europe’s last dictatorship.”
The groundbreaking film tells the story of 23-year old Miron, whose true passion is music. When his concert triggers an anti-regime protest, Miron is held responsible. Despite a heart condition, he is forcibly drafted into the army. Serving in a remote unit, Miron faces ideological brainwashing and horrible living conditions.
Through a hidden mobile phone, Miron informs his girlfriend Viera about the day to day life of a conscript. She posts his diary on the Internet and it soon becomes a sensation among young people. As a result, the regime tries to discredit Miron and crush his spirit.
Co-written by Mr. Viachorka, Viva Belarus! is the first feature film about the political situation in Belarus. Officially banned in Belarus, several of the film’s actors were forced to leave the country after its making.
In 2013, the film won “Best Screenplay” at the Brussels Film Festival, the “Audience Award” at the Gdynia Film Festival, “Best Film” at Vienna’s GAFFA Film Festival, the “Golden Sable” at the Warsaw International Historical and Military Film Festival, and the “Grand Prix” at the 3rd International Crime and Punishment Film Festival in Istanbul.
The film has been shown at festivals throughout Europe, including in the Czech Republic, Portugal, the Netherlands and Lithuania. It recently was screened in the European Parliament.
The film was followed by a panel discussion on the role of youth in pushing for positive change in Belarus, which included:
- Franak Viachorka, Co-writer of Viva Belarus! and a journalist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
- Veronika Bajgarova, Director of the Human Rights and Transition Policy Department at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and
- Rodger Potocki, Senior Director for Europe at the National Endowment for Democracy.
The discussion was moderated by Christian Caryl, a Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute and a Contributing Editor at Foreign Policy magazine.