On this bonus episode of the New Abnormal, Kyiv-based film producer Egor Olesov— an executive producer at FilmUA, one of the largest film studios in Ukraine, where he worked extensively with future President Volodymyr Zelensky during his acting career—calls in from Lviv.

Olesov—in a conversation also joined by John Wynn, a Vietnamese American filmmaker who worked with Egor on the film The Rising Hawk, which was shot in Ukraine in 2019 and 2019—tells host Molly Jong-Fast that, “We came back and right now we are doing what we can do as much as possible to support our people, to defend our country and to show to the world the truth about this crazy Russian invasion in Ukraine. It’s like horror dream. It’s a really crazy situation. It’s a big war in the center of the Europe.”

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As to Zelensky, Olesov says, “When the war started, he became like another person. I mean, it’s incredible. Maybe because there was direct—he was target No. 1 for Putin, right now he’s doing the right things, he’s doing really good things, and his speech is really motivational. So like 90 or maybe 95 percent of Ukrainians right now are supporting him, which is really good… Since the Russian army came, it’s like another person right now. It’s fantastic. It’s really interesting, actually, I know him very well from because he’s from also from entertainment industry and we worked with him on a lot of projects together. I know him very well. Like maybe for 20 or 25 years…

“My expectation was not so good because he was not experienced as a politician… but right now it’s quite a different situation and we need to be united as well. All the nation, all the Ukrainians. This is really important right now, a really complicated situation and it’s not only about Russia and Ukraine, it’s about the whole world and it’s about Europe and even United States. We need to stop this crazy dictator and we need to fight with him here.”

Comparing Putin to Hitler and this moment to World War II, Olesov says that this time, “We need to stop it right here, right now, not to start the big war.”

Plus Andrew Rice, New York magazine contributing editor and the author of The Year That Broke America, explains how “I came to the conclusion that the seeds of the future were sown in 2000 in the election between Bush and Gore (as) all the things that we now see coming to fruition in distressing form in our society were sort of just starting to come into being at that time and in one place, in Florida. which I call the unlikely crucible of the future”—one where “at the time the recount was going on, the 9/11 pilots were training in Florida, sort of serenely flying above it”—just after Donald Trump ran for the reform party nomination that year in his first presidential campaign. “All these stories I sort of brought together in the book tell this sort of ribald, picaresque, and ultimately sort of tragic story of how America took a wrong turn.”

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