52-The Trolleybus

by David Auerbach


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A few years ago I came upon a small news item in a paper. The article reported on the worlds longest trolley bus line in operation today, the #52 bus in the Ukrainian Crimea. I clipped the article and, as time passed, my mind regularly returned to this far flung destination on the famed russian Black Sea. In 2011, dreams met reality and I decided to go investigate for myself.

With the support of the Ukrainian Film Comission I found a local Producer and secured the enthusiastic support of the Krymm-Trolleybus institution to do a documentary film.

What I found was a anachronistic institution that somehow managed to survive the vast political and social currents of the regions last 50 years. Although underfunded and working with long since outdated equipment, the dedicated employees of Krymtrolleybus department have managed to keep the buses running.

I interviewed employees young and old, spent time in the various departments, observed, listened and tried to understand the colorful history and intricate mechanics of a complex operation on the brink of extinction. 

What emereged was the fascinating, moving and historically significant portrait of an institution built in the mold of the original socialist spirit. A massive public works project of giant proportions built for the people by the people. 

All of the people I interviewed, humble and slightly surprised at my interest, invited me into their homes or workplaces, shared their stories and generously answered my questions accompanied by thoughtfull sighs, sad smiles and sometimes roaring laughter.

In the spirit of the great collector of oral histories Stud Terkle, I saw the unique chance to record the personal histories of mostly common people, who lived and worked through one of the most tumultous periods of modern time. Some of the subjects interviewed have been with the bus company since it started operation in 1961. They are well into their 80's and with them, their stories will dissapear.

On my initial trip I spent 2 weeks in the Crimea. With the help of your donation I will spend an additional 3-4 weeks in the Ukraine and finish principal photography on the project. A crew of two people (additional camera, sound/DIT) will travel from the states. On location I will hire my trusted local producer Leonid and translator Olina. I will also travel to the film archives of Kiev and Moskau to obtain relevant news reel material. Any funds aquired above my minimal goal will be allocated toward initiating post production.

Please visit http://www.52thetrolleybus.com for the complete trailer, credits, location photos and more.

Match Funds are not currently available.

Previous donations matched by:

    • January 29, 2013 David Auerbach Artist

      Hi supporters, family, and friends, I can’t believe we’re here! With your support we’ve raised an amazing $10 000 for my project 52-The Trolleybus! We have reached our minimum goal and the project is funded at this point. We still have 2 1/2 Days left to exceed the minimum goal! If I raise a bit more I will be able to hire additional crew and stay a bit longer if necessary. Forward, post, tweet, tumble, and search your wallets for loose change of any value and currency http://www.usaprojects.org/project/52_the_trolleybus Thanks so much to you all. I really appreciate your generosity and commitment. David Auerbach ps: I booked a ticket and am flying back to the Ukraine for at least 3 weeks in May to finish the shooting part of the doc.

    • January 29, 2013 Karen Jaikowski Artist

      Congratulations!!! So excited for you!!! Can't wait to see the completed Documentary!!!

    • January 05, 2013 Micaela Gardner Artist

      I really hope you get ALL your funds. This work is so touching and beautiful!