They Who Surround Us is the story of an immigrant farmer in Vegreville in 1987, who fled Ukraine as an eight-year-old boy in 1943. After he loses his wife in a tragic accident, guilt and grief send him into an emotional spiral where mysterious and inexplicable events force him to relive traumatic incidents from his childhood in Ukraine. 

The main character, Roman, escaped from Ukraine in 1943 at the age of 8. He is now a farmer living in Vegreville, Alberta. We begin Roman’s journey a week after his wife, Kalyna’s death. His grief is debilitating and he struggles to carry on. By nature, he is quiet, and like many of those that survived but did not escape the horrors of the war, he has a deep need to keep his emotions and memories of that time at a safe distance. 

Without Kalyna, Roman’s world begins to crumble as he struggles to move forward and care for their son on his own.  Roman’s guilt and grief send him into an emotional spiral where his reality begins to be intruded upon by mysterious and inexplicable events.  He begins hearing a lullaby. A lullaby that Kalyna would sing to Mykola and his mother, Maria used to sing to him as a boy in Ukraine. Triggered by the trauma of Kalyna’s death, the full horror of Roman’s childhood begins to emerge. 

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Openly gay Canadian actor Troy Ruptash was born and raised in Vegreville before making his move to Los Angeles to pursue his career, with They Who Surround Us being his directorial debut.

Troy was born and raised in Vegreville, Alberta. Thirty years ago, after finishing his conservatory training at Ryerson Theater School in Toronto Troy began his journey as a working actor when he was cast in the first season of the television series: Law and Order. Since then he has continued to work consistently in the film and television industry. Troy has garnered attention for his work on stage and screen and has been covered by the media in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. He’s worked with three Academy Award winning writer/directors (Paolo Sorrentino, Vicky Jenson and John Patrick Shanley) and has had lead and supporting roles in both Studio and Independent films. Troy has had recurring, guest star and guest lead roles on over 50 Network and cable television shows including being cast as the ‘real’ Don Draper on the iconic drama, Mad Men, ER, The West Wing, CSI, JAG, Longmire, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, The Rookie, Training Day, The Mentalist, Justified and The Young Pope to name a few. Troy began his career as a director in 2015 directing two critically acclaimed plays in Los Angeles. In 2016 he co-produced and starred in 21 episodes of a web series called Firsts: The Series. In 2018, Troy’s first screenplay, They Who Surround Us was a finalist in the Duplass Brothers’ Hometown Heroes competition. In 2019, Troy went on to direct, produce and play the lead role in the film that was shot in his hometown of Vegreville, Alberta.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.