Some of Ukraine’s most talented filmmakers have been processing and exploring the trauma that followed Russia’s invasions of Crimea and the Donbas region. In recent years Ukraine’s emerging film community has created art filled with heart and a true connection to the human spirit. We take a look at the films of those creatives currently under seige.
If you are unware, or unsure of where to start when it comes to Ukraine, perhaps going to the source and experiencing the beauty of Ukranian filmmaking is the way.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (2015), by Evgeny Afineevsky
This documentary presents an emotional, on-the-ground montage of the protests that were sparked by the Ukrainian government’s 2014 decision to suspend the signing of a trade agreement with the European Union. This led their government instead to create closer ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Surprising for many of a country that sought freedom from the USSR, but an intelligent and heartbreaking look at how the steps were laid back then to the issue of invasion we see today.
From the 2020 Sundance film festival: The Earth Is Blue as an Orange
Iryna Tsilyk’s inventive meta-documentary is an interrogation of the plight of the women and children living amid Ukraine’s multi-year war in Donbas. The emotional rollercoaster of this film is a testament to the transformative and emotive power of cinema. The film follows a Ukrainian single mother named Hanna and her four children as they try to keep their home a safe haven full of life and levity as the bombs fall and chaos unfolds around them. Every member of the family has a passion for cinema, and Tsilyk films them as they shoot their own movie inspired by their own lives in a time of war
Watching these films may feel…futile in the face of falling bombs on your news, but, such cinema offers a kaleidoscopic view into the lives and concerns of contemporary Ukrainians. It is an intimate window into how Ukraine’s populus is coping with the deadly hardships of Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea and near-constant warfare in the Donbas region.