Celebrated Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa returns to his distinctively rigorous brand of documentary filmmaking with this remarkable eye-witness account of the protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, which led to the departure of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Over three months, Loznitsa and his minimal crew simply filmed, with fixed cameras placed among or around the crowds in the square, whatever happened. And what we see, in long, almost painterly takes and without commentary (occasional inter-titles provide dates and basic context), is a sea of anonymous, discernibly ‘ordinary’ folk initially involved in a carnival of anthem-singing, speeches, music and food, then, following the anti-protest laws announced in January 2014, caught up in increasingly violent conflict with armed riot police. Painstakingly objective though right in the thick of it, Loznitsa’s perspective on historical change makes for an utterly gripping film that’s both topical and timeless. Most moving is its closing, which reminds us that we’re witnessing an ongoing conflict, one that continues to claim hundreds of lives, with no clear end in sight.
Sam Watts, a philosophy student at the University of Bristol who travelled to Ukraine in September 2014 to report on the conflict, will introduce the 17:20 screening on Wednesday 1 April and host an informal discussion on the film in the Café/Bar from 19:50 onwards
133 mins, 2014, Netherlands/Ukraine, Subtitled, CTBA