Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a pastor in Mariupol, Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, hundreds, if not thousands of children have become homeless and addicted to a deadly mixture of cold medicine and alcohol that they are injecting like herion. Gennadiy has taken it upon himself to rescue these children, small groups at a time and bring them to his rehabilitation center called Pilgrim Republic. An accomplished and eloquent orator, this strong headed and passionate pastor, sometimes forcibly removes children from sewers, or other filth ridden settings, to set them on the straight and narrow. His aim is to improve their alcohol recovery timeline, get these kids healthy and make them want to be functioning members of society. Confronting abusive parents and taking on the government, Gennadiy is a saint. He has 11 children, most of them adopted from the lot that he has saved over the years. He has a wit and charm that make him one of the most approachable men, and yet he has a tenacity that is also threatening when it needs to be.
This documentary from Steve Hooper is beautifully inter-cut with a Soviet animated TV show, Crocodile Gennadiy from which our pastor gets his nickname. The parrallels between Gennadiy and the cartoon are almost unbelievable. The methods this man uses are far from what would be acceptable for any church in the United States, and as far as I am concerned, we should be taking a page from his playbook when fighting for good.
I was able to sit down with Steve Hoover and producer Danny Yourd. Find out some of the crazy story behind the making of this film.
You can still catch CROCODILE GENNADIY at this year’s festival: