Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom/Ukraine/USA, 2015. Afineevsky – Tolmor Production, Campbell Grobman Films, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Pray for Ukraine Production, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment, Rock Paper Scissors, SPN Production, UkrStream TV. Screenplay by Den Tolmor. Cinematography by Evgeny Afineevsky, Oleg Tandalov, Maxim Bernakevich, Ruslan Ganushchak, Eduard Georgadze, Inna Goncharova, Kostyantyn Ignatchuk, Alex Kashpur, Lizogub Khrystyna, Lina Klebanova, Kirill Kniazev, Damian Kolodiy, Maria Komar, Viktor Kozhevnikov, Yuriy Krivenko, Vladimir Makarevich, Arturas Morozovas, Dmytro Patyutko, Pavlo Peleshok, Viacheslav Poliantsev, Galyna Sadomtseva-Nabaranchuk, Constantin Shandybin, Zhenya Shynkar, Ielizaveta Smith, Tsvetkov Vyacheslav, Igor Zakharenko. Produced by Evgeny Afineevsky, Den Tolmor. Music by Jasha Klebe. Film Editing by Will Znidaric. Academy Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
Following the nation’s declaring independence from Russia in the early nineties, the people of Ukraine hope to increase their prosperity by joining the western world via membership with the European Union. President Victor Yanukovich says all the right things about joining the EU but his intentions, it turns out, are aligned with Putin’s desire to maintain control of the nation. When it is announced that the Ukraine will not be signing up, the populace snaps: a small crowd gathering in Kiev’s Maidan Square very quickly becomes a ninety day revolution that sees the people standing up to government armed forces and paid thugs, in some cases paying for this with their lives, in many more receiving violent beatings, determined to have the president unseated and their demands met. It’s a shorter time period than in Tahrir Square (in Cairo you don’t have the kind of winter that you get in Kiev, after all), but the intensity of this revolution is something to behold in this awe-inspiring documentary that features grisly footage of violence and inspiring scenes of impassioned citizens. Director Evgeny Afineevsky has numerous cameras on the ground to capture the personalities and perseverance of the people who see no other way to ensure a hopeful future, and assembles these scenes with an immediacy that will make this film worthy of the best political documentaries you’ve ever seen. Upsetting and inspiring, it’s incredibly dynamic and a superb record of a historic moment that celebrates the triumph of this particular story’s conclusion despite the tragedies to follow.