at war

The Culture Fights Back project to share stories of artists and civil society representatives who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In this section, you can find out more about how Ukrainian directors, actors, editors, and film producers protect their country in its most difficult time.

Akhtem Seitablaiev

Akhtem Seitablaiev is a Ukrainian actor, screenwriter and film director of Crimean Tatar origin. Known for films such as Haytarma (2013), Cyborgs (2017) and The Rising Hawk (2019), he is also the head of the “Crimean House” cultural space. Since the start of the full-scale invasion, Akhtem has been a part of the Territorial Defense Forces; he currently defends Ukraine in the ranks of the Armed Forces. 

Akhtem comes from a family of Crimean Tatars. Indigenous people of the Crimean Peninsula, his relatives were forcibly deported from Crimea in 1944 by Soviet authorities. Despite the inhuman conditions of deportation, the family managed to survive – Akhtem was later born in the city of Yangiul, near Tashkent, on December 11, 1972. After graduating from school in 1989, he and his family decided to return to their lost homeland of Crimea. The story of Crimean Tatars returning to Crimea became the basis of Homeward (2019) by Nariman Aliyev, in which Akhtem played the main role. The film premiered at the 72nd Cannes International Film Festival.

In the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion, Akhtem joined the Territorial Defence Forces of Kyiv. In numerous interviews, the actor recalled how he was amazed by the number of people willing to defend their city. Later, he was appointed Head of the Service for Cooperation for the 241st separate brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, working with both the public and mass media. 

Even during the war, Akhtem does not stop his work as a filmmaker. Together with his friends and colleagues, he documents the everyday life of war. Additionally, he records war crimes committed by the Russian army on Ukrainian territory. 

On February 22, 2023, Akhtem Seitablayev’s military drama, Peaceful-21, premiered in Ukrainian cinemas. Detailing the history of Luhansk border defense forces resisting Russian subversive groups in 2014, one of the roles in the film was played by the actor Pasha Lee, who was later killed by Russian invaders in 2022 .


Akhtem Seitablayev Facebook-page
Akhtem Seitablaiev’s selected filmography:
Haytarma Watch | Cyborgs Watch | The Rising Hawk Watch