OBERLIN — Bill Arthrell, an Oberlin native and former Cleveland educator, gave a movie showing Wednesday at First Church.
David Hill, pastor of First Church, planned the film viewing for a year and was excited the time had arrived. Hill became more connected to Arthrell after the passing of his mother, Mildred Arthrell, who was an active parishioner at the church, in 2011.
The viewing of the documentary “Ukraine: Path to Freedom,” which Arthrell stars in, was part of the church’s adult education series.
“It seemed like an opportunity to see what his firsthand experience was all about,” Hill said. “Plus, if I have a parishioner or somebody connected to a parishioner that does something creative like a film, and I have somebody to screen it and have an opportunity to talk about it … how cool is that?”
The documentary focuses on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the central square of the city of Kiev, Ukraine, which was the site of the Ukrainian Revolution from 2013 to 2015, seen through the point of view of foreigners like Arthrell. People who lived through the revolution also were featured, recounting the violence in the streets that lead to the deaths of many Ukrainians.
Arthrell also was a student during the May 4, 1970, shooting at Kent State University where four students died after the National Guard opened fire on anti-war protesters.
“That is forever inserted into my conscious and unconscious mind and indeed it really traumatized me,” he said.
A retired 31-year Cleveland history teacher, Arthrell said his experiences led him to fight against injustice and lead an amazing life.
David Orr, a retired Oberlin College professor in environmental studies and politics, said he was glad he saw the film.
“The artistic part of it aside, it’s a brutal story and it brings home the cost of freedom and democracy and I couldn’t help but think of the present ties between the current administration in Washington and (Ukrainian President Viktor) Yanukovych and (Vladimir Putin),” he said. “You can’t watch a film like that without seeing a U.S. role that is now apparently absent in confronting Russian aggression in the Ukraine and elsewhere.”
The film is from Golden Gate Productions. Arthrell said he’ll star in another film as well as have a book of poetry published in Ukraine.