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Sète: keeping busy so as not to sink, the new daily life of the Tcherniavskis


While the little Cherniavskis go to school, their mother has equipment delivered to Ukraine, while their father shoots a film from Warsaw with a famous Hollywood actor.

Mom is a very strong woman. She doesn’t need a filter to talk about everything that happens to us.” Thus Vikki explains the striking difference in attitude that distinguishes her from her mother. The young woman, who works in artistic circles, describes the cultural effervescence of kyiv with a luminous nostalgia.

Her mother, a pentathlon champion in the days of the USSR, relentlessly recalls the horror they have just gone through, and rails against Putin and vodka, “who stupefied the Russian people”.

In France, Vikki has many friends. One of them lent him an apartment in Sète. She arrived there, after a long drive, with her two children, Maria and Aleksander, and their grandmother Margarita.

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They paralyzed my dog

Here, the family found some landmarks. A favorite pizzeria, the playground at Place Aristide Briand, and the Michelet school, where Aleksandr and Maria are enrolled. These new everyday places recompose a semblance of normal life, on which their grandmother lifts the veil at the turn of each discussion, by crudely verbalizing her thoughts. The bomb that paralyzed her dog, the horrified text messages from her friends who stayed behind. Civilians shot cold. “Stop it, Mom“, resumes Vikki modestly.

Little Alekansder can’t stay still. His big sister Maria scolds him, and proudly recounts his first day at school: “Everyone wants to be friends with me. We speak Barabanski.“. This is the name she gives to a language without words, made up of gestures and mimicry. Can Aleksander and Maria understand? On the road leading to the border, the bombs whistled. Their parents increased the volume of the radio, and pressed the accelerator.

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If you go with Sean Penn to the east, I’m divorced

From Sète, Vikki orchestrates a humanitarian and military logistics system, mobilizing the company of her husband Sacha, an audiovisual producer. In recent months, he worked with Sean Penn on the filming of a documentary Ukraine. When the war broke out, they wanted to rush to the Dombass front line. Vikki dissuaded him with an unstoppable argument: “If you go with Sean Penn to the east, I’m divorced“. Sacha and the Hollywood actor finish the film in Warsaw.

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