My Baba's Kitchen

Animated Short Film

Floating in my Mind

Here is a beautiful French short film I stumbled upon on the Internet. Un film qui raconte l'histoire de la vie, de rencontres, de souvenirs ...A film about our life, the people we meet, the memories we make ...


Réalisé par : Hélène Leroux

I recently looked back at some advice that was given to me from an animator about the process. I will start story-boarding my film idea myself. Perhaps I find someone that is inspired by my vision to help me make my story a reality.



I went over to my grandmother's after months of having this newspaper clip in my possession. framed photo I printed the photo of her sitting around the table with her friends and framed it. I also gave her a copy of the newspaper clipping. We sat on her balcony and she pointed to each face in the black and white photo and told me who they were, who they married and where they moved to after living with her in Picton.

As I sat there with her, tears rolling down my face because apparently I had a larger emotional reaction during this moment, my grandmother gave me some life advice because I am moving away for a year to teach in Slovakia. She related said moving to another country is hard, but she did it and she made new friends. Ultimately, that's how she met my grandfather.

Baba has an album of photos from Picton and said she will look for it for me. Why didn't I think of that sooner?

I guess this whole plan of mine is on hold since I'm going away. But who knows? I'll still be keeping an eye out for an animator and I could possibly meet with my musician/composer in Ukraine while I'm there. At least I accomplished one task I had set out for myself: giving my grandmother the photo I had found earlier this year.

The Thief and the Cobbler Today my friend sent me this animated film made by Canadian artist Richard Williams. The production of the film started in 1964 and ended in 1993. It took a LONG time to complete. Williams wanted it to be a masterpiece, and after watching it today with my family, it totally is. Somewhat reminicent of Disney's Aladdin (the characters of Princess Yum-Yum, Zig-Zag and King/Sultan have very similar attributes/colour schemes as their Disney counterparts). That aside, it's still a fun film with good music.

It's been a while since I updated my progress. Last week I met with my original animator Andres and chatted about the future steps of my film. He is now working on storyboarding the film for me, and I am preparing myself for grants, proposals and my eventual Rockethub launch (for those that don't know- Rockethub is a crowd-funding website that would allow me to raise money with the support of friends, family and strangers that get incentives to donate, such as  their names appearing in the credits or tickets to the film premiere)

I have yet to give my grandmother the photo of her I found in the newspaper. Hopefully this week I'll have time to print out a couple copies (one will be framed, the others she'll want to carry around in her purse to show her friends). When I do, I'll make sure to document the moment. I told her I found something she hasn't seen in a long time and she's excited.

Oscar-Nominated Shorts

Last week I made sure to sneak in time to see the nominated shorts for 2013, both animated and live-action. I'm pretty sure they're still playing at Tiff Lightbox Theatre -- I highly recommend going! In between each film, previous winners talked about their process and gave advice. Last year's winning authors of the film The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore explained that making a movie takes a long time...longer than you thought it would take (this is when my friend sitting next to me poked me in the ribs). Yes, this is a long process, but there there is daily progress.

Today, I received an email from a Bata representative forwarding me photos of the factory in Picton where my grandmother worked:

Image's happening. Slowly but surely. I've been patient and things are working for me. Pieces of my grandmother's puzzle are coming together.

February 10, 1949

I knew yesterday was the day. I woke up and just knew it. After narrowing down the date with my grandmother, I figured the photo had to be published sometime later in January, after the 6/7th which was Ukrainian Christmas when the photo was taken. I went to the media lab and popped a new roll of microfilm onto the scanner and within a couple minutes, I came across this page:

full page 2

My heart was pounding. COULD THIS BE IT? A quick zoom in and the final name of the list of women, and the person closest to the camera on the right is my grandmother in her 20s, right after she arrived to Canada.

My Grandmother, Olga Sawczuk, upon her arrival in CanadaI couldn't believe I found it. When I did, I silently celebrated. I couldn't stop smiling and held back my tears. Baba's never seen this photo. I can't wait to print it and show it to her.

The Art of Вареники (Perogies)

I'm editing this after posting earlier today because sometimes things happen for a reason. I posted thinking "too bad I don't have any images to show my grandmother making perogies", posting a video that I found online and thought nothing of it. Later today, my Baba called and invited us over to make perogies with her. She had all the supplies ready, she needed some workers to help her put them together. My sister was already on the road running errands so she stopped by to help.  I felt the need to update my original post with a photo my sister took today because I'm taking this moment as a sign to keep going with this project. I have to... Baba sharing her ritual with my sister

It's been a while. Things have been at a bit of a stand-still. School has gotten a bit crazy but this week is going to be promising. I've received an email from Interlibrary loan that says my new microfilms have come in. The photo of my grandmother is in there for sure. By Wednesday I think I'll have it :)

As part of my ongoing research, I've found this really cute homemade video of someone's Baba making perogies. Information and visuals like this are crucial for the animator to understand in order to depict the beautiful ritual accurately, even though everyone has their own style of making the traditional potato-filled dumplings.


Short of the Week

Here's a website that I check constantly. shorts

It features amazing short films sorted by genre, topic and style. Whatever film you're in the mood for, they've got it. And, it's short!

I really like the idea of short films; you have to make your point in a short period of time. It should convey emotion, be thought-provoking, or funny within a couple minutes. I'm trying to accomplish all of that, WITHOUT dialogue. ha. Good luck to me. :)

Bata Shoe Company

Books about Bata Shoe Company I guess the library is starting to be my favourite place. Yesterday after round 2 of search through microfilms for my grandmother's photo, I took the elevator to the stacks in search of books about Bata Shoe Company, specifically in Canada.

When my grandmother first arrived in Canada, she worked at a shoe factory...I thought it was Bata, but in my notes from my meeting with Baba, she says she worked in Carrier Shoe factory. Handy dandy google search isn't finding anything for me with that name. Bata Picton, on the other hand, IS wielding results....

I've started reading Thomas Bata's autobiography. It's fascinating! His father died a Czech hero -- he not only provided thousands of jobs, he helped educate many of his workers and provided good quality products for cheap. Thomas followed his father's legacy, expanding their company across the world. What amazing men!

The reason for all this is I want to hear stories and see pictures of this shoe factory in order for the scene in my film to be depicted accurately. I'm also going to contact Sonja Bata. She's the founding chairman of Bata Shoe Museum (and wife of Thomas). It may be of interest to them that I'm perhaps depicting a bit of their family history in my film.

More info to come. My research continues.

Starting the Search...

Today Bohdan and I went to Robarts Library to start the search for the aforementioned photo of my grandmother supposedly printed in a newspaper. I picked up a box of 13 rolls, 2 years worth of newspaper from 1947 and 1948 on microfilm! After the gentleman in Media Commons showed us how to use the super cool microfilm machines,(they're like a combination of old film projectors and scanners with a bright green light that automatically transmits what's under the glass onto a computer screen), Bohdan grabbed one roll and I grabbed another. Our hunt took a couple hours. By the end our eyes were tired of looking at newspapers whizzing by on computer screens.

We didn't find the photo today, but there were a couple close calls, such as an ESTONIAN party celebrating their independence in Montreal looked oddly similar to Ukrainians I'm looking for.


In general we noticed newspapers haven't changed all that much. The hot topics were lots of cases of fires and post war comments about prices not going up. Ads were directed at women (panty hose and fur coats) and men (cigarettes and suits). I took screen shots of a bunch of interesting things I found. Take a look!

So my search continues. We only successfully got through 4 rolls today. I have a deadline because apparently the films need to be back by February 13? AJJJJ!


Kingston Whig Standard I said this whole story started with a photo. It's not my grandparents' wedding photo that I'm referring to though. It was a photo that was published in a newspaper that brought my grandparents together. My grandmother was living in Picton, Ontario and my grandfather was living in Kingston, Ontario. Somehow my grandfather saw a photo that was published of my grandmother and her friends which kicked him into gear to go and find them.

I've narrowed down my ideas as to which newspaper it could be. There have been long conversations with library people in Picton, Kingston, Queens, University of name a few. As you can imagine, finding  a photo from 1948, which is probably not even labelled with names, is quite a daunting task.

I've made a RACER account (an interlibrary loan service between university libraries) and have put forward a request to get the Kingston Whig Standard newspaper for the years 1947 and 1948 on microfilm. Apparently it takes a while to receive your order so I've been patiently waiting. Once I get the newspapers, which will be in a tiny format like old film reels, I'll have to sit and literally look through all  the photos and try to find my grandmother's 20 year old face.

Let the detective work begin. I'll update as soon as I start my hunt!

Some details

It was my Baba's 85th Birthday yesterday! So a big cake for her! Birthday Girl

So here's a bit about my film, as I haven't really written about what exactly it will look like!

I want it to be an animated short film, about 5 min in length. The type of animated style that I like looks painted. I was inspired by the film Wild Life by Canadian animators Tilby and Forbes (who support me but don't have time to animate my film- yes I did go there an ask them!) I went to see Oscar-nominated short films at TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre last year and had the pleasure of seeing their film and fell in love with the style that looks like a stop motion painting.

I'm currently waiting to hear back from some animators I had in mind and hopefully I can begin the process with them!

(By process I mean applying for grants such as National Film Board of Canada which gives out grants to amateur film makers! THAT'S ME! Most grants however want to see some process work and that's why there's a bit of a waiting game. I need my animator secured before I do anything else.)

Things are looking good though. I'm optimistic.

It's actually happening...

I've had this website for a while..but it was just floating, lingering in cyberspace. I see that some people have actually stumbled upon it, only to be disappointed, I'm sure, because of the complete lack of anything on it. Well, that's changing right now. Here, on my personal website I am going to document my process of creating my short film.

Yes, I am going to make a short film.

I've been talking about it for a while now and I figure by actually writing it down, for people to read about, it'll help with my process.

My Baba Ola and Dido Vasyl

So, this all started with a photo. Pictured above are my father's parents, my grandparents. I was pretty young when my grandfather passed away and grew up without really knowing him. It was not until the past couple years that I really started grappling for the threads that had always been dangled in my face about being Ukrainian. I never understood what that meant. I just accepted it. I am Ukrainian I would say. I had never even been to that country, let alone really knowing where it was on a map.

I can't say exactly when it was, but I reached for those threads and started pulling them apart, analyzing their colours and trying our various techniques of weaving them together. I've visited my grandparents' country three times now and understand that it is not home. Home is somewhere inside; it's a collection of what you know, what you don't know, and what you think you know. When I'm asked now, I proudly say I'm Ukrainian-Canadian. As one friend once said, I live on both sides of the hyphen. I am a combination. I'm proud to be part of a folk collective in Toronto that aims to rejuvenate but also reinvent old traditions that seem to have been lost or commercialized on their way across the ocean.

This film is my attempt at presenting the story my grandmother told me about how she and my grandfather met, here in Canada. She laughed when I first told her I was going to make a film about her. To her, it's such a simple story, not worth anyone's time. But I think it's so much more.

I want people to really start thinking about where they came from. Sure, people know the general stuff: dates and names from old photos. But there is a lack of connection. It's those little anecdotes that really connect us to our past. My grandmother lights up every time she talks about my grandfather. She says he was the "valentino" of dancing. I don't even know what that means, but just the way she says it, clasping her hands together, I know it meant a lot to her to dance with her love.

In Canada, most of us share the immigrant experience, and that is why I'm making this film. I want people to be inspired to think about their family histories, because we all have them.

 © 2016 My Baba's Kitchen