Asia Khmelova

The Night Before (Narrative)


Asia Khmelova

The Night Before tells the story of a Jewish family who finds themselves in an Eastern Orthodox Church looking for help in changing their documents and names to Christian ones which would save them from the massacres carried out by German forces in Kyiv in 1941. When arriving to the church Alexandr, the father, figures out that the priest who promised to help him with the documents is not there. There is another priest instead who doesn’t want to change the documents unless the Jewish family agrees to go through the ceremony of baptism. After consideration the family decides to go through with the baptism but when realizing the seriousness of the ceremony they stop, unable to betray their religion and traditions.

About the Director

Born in Eastern Ukraine, Dnipropetrovsk, Asia started her education in film after moving to Kyiv, where she worked on documentaries, experimental theatre, and her first short film projects. In the spring of 2021, Asia finished her MFA degree at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, as a writer-director. Currently, she’s on her way to launching her storytelling career as she gears up for her first feature Cosmonaut.

Director’s Statement

I come from a Jewish Ukrainian family in which the tragic events of the war always had a special place in the minds of even the youngest family members. Those memories live in the war songs, in the holidays, and in the stories – which I heard plenty of from my great grandma who survived World War II. I would always listen to her with my mouth wide open… the horrors she told me scared me, inspired me and taught me… made those events feel present. In The Night Before I am attempting to touch the tragedy which happened in Babi Yar, which is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and a site of the massacre carried out by German forces. It has been called one of the largest single massacres in the history of the Holocaust. In The Night Before I will try to paint a portrait of how it felt to be one of the Jewish families back then. I feel the need and the urge to explore the different aspects of the Holocaust, such as the relationships between Jewish and Ukrainian families under the pressure of German forces. Those events became a massive part of Ukrainian history. There are topics that never die, that never lose their relevance and should never be forgotten.