Nu Boyana Studios Organizing Convoys, Job Fair to Help Ukraine Refugees
Nu Boyana Studios, the production backlot based in Sofia, Bulgaria, and owned by U.S. indie production company Millennium Media, has stepped up to help refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, Nu Boyana set up a convoy of vehicles to pick up refugees who had crossed the Ukraine border to Moldova, and to transport them south to safety in Bulgaria.
“There are two borders between us and Ukraine — Romania and Moldova — so we are a ways from the fighting,” says Nu Boyana CEO Yariv Lerner. “When the war started, people started asking me about what the impact on the business would be. But honestly, who cares about the business? This is a humanitarian crisis?”
Lerner is coordinating his efforts with the Bulgarian government, which, like most Eastern European countries, has agreed to waive travel and immigration restrictions on those fleeing the war and make it easier for them to find work and stay.
“We’ll be holding a job fair at the studio in the coming weeks, with companies we work with here, to help those who arrive,” Lerner says. “As a big film studio, we can offer all types of jobs, and we have our own film school so we can train those who want to have a career in this industry.”
Lerner said he is also negotiating with Greek authorities to see if some people arriving from Ukraine can be cleared to work on Millennium Media’s new action-thriller, the Renny Harlin-helmed The Bricklayer, which is set to start production at Nu Boyana’s studios in Greece later this month.
The European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member, has agreed that refugees from Ukraine can stay and work in any of the countries of the Union for up to three years without having to go through an approval procedure. The Bulgarian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy announced Monday that Ukrainians and members of their families granted asylum or international protection in Bulgaria have the right to work without a permit to access the labor market.
The government estimates more than 7,000 Ukrainians entered Bulgaria through three border crossings with Romania from midnight on Feb. 24 to the morning of Feb. 28.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Tourism has suggested putting up the new arrivals in hotels until other accommodation can be found. In contrast to the anti-immigrant sentiment seen with other waves of refugees, most notably those fleeing wars in the Middle East or Africa, European countries have been almost universally supportive of people fleeing Ukraine. Bulgaria’s Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer has suggested showing solidarity with refugees will pay off with economic benefits in the future.