VERZIO 2015: When a Dream Comes True

Art, struggle, dignity and dreams. These are the words that describe the life of Belarusian artist Valery Liashkevich. While the art world is tied to money, he could hardly make any profit from his art. To find out the reasons why, Anastasiya Miroshnichenko followed him and documented his everyday life. Watching the ‘Crossroads’, a Sweden–Belarus co-production, one question comes across everyone’s mind: Is this the life that one deserves?

Valery Liashkevich is a homeless artist who lives at the Gomel railway station in Belarus. He studied to become an artist and teacher, but his life changed forever when his mother died and his brother kicked out of their home. He worked to earn money to make ends meet on his own but one time when he was away from work after receiving permission to do that he was fired. Ever since he has been living in the streets, which was probably much bearable while he was younger, as he says: “It’s difficult to be in the streets at this age.”

Due to the fact that he lives at one of the most visited sites in town almost everyone knows him, not only from the station but also from parks where he sells his artworks. His daily routine is mainly influenced by his passion for painting; he can create all day long. His style is abstract and symbolic, and many self-portraits can be found among his pieces. Even if Valery’s life is far away from the ideal, the one that one deserves or dreams about, he takes it more of a challenge rather than a burden. He is a real philosopher and a “businessmen” when it comes to selling his paintings; he is dreaming about buying a house one day.

Anastasiya Miroshnichenko’s first documentary – as she states on the Libereco’s website – “was conceived as a charity project to help the homeless artist Valery Liashkevich”. Therefore, it’s barely a surprise that the ‘Crossroads’ shows no one else than him. The viewers accompany him, and they explore the world he lives in. Reality is tough, but Valery always has a smile on his face. The cinematographer goes very close to him, close-ups are frequent, although a fairly great amount of shots presenting the locations visited has been made.

No one can argue that Miroshnichenko and her colleagues did a great job. As a result of their hard work Valery’s artworks were exhibited at the National Art Museum in Minsk, and his dream came true. Thanks to Swedish producer Maclom Dikselius and his company Dixit International the film has been selected by several film festivals, and won some awards.

We saw the film at the Verzio International Human Rights Film Festival, Budapest, 2015.


Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.