Ukrainian filmmakers bring horrors of war to Sundance Film Festival

Ukrainian filmmakers bring horrors of war to Sundance Film Festival

“20 Days In Mariupol” is shown on Friday nights at Sundance. (File)

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Two new documentaries by Ukrainian filmmakers highlighting the carnage wrought by Russia’s invasion of their country — and the insidious effects of Kremlin propaganda — will premiere at the festival movie Sundance this week.

“20 Days In Mariupol,” shown Friday night, depicts in heartbreaking detail the arrival of war last year in a city that has become one of the bloodiest fighting sites of the invasion. strategy, all recorded by besieged video journalists.

And “Iron Butterflies,” which premieres Sunday, chronicles the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian armed separatists over eastern Ukraine, and the harbinger of major conflict. than today.

Director Mstyslav Chernov, a journalist who filmed the important port city of Mariupol as Russian troops advance in February and March 2021, said he hopes to release his footage as a “deep hit” documentary. more” and “stronger” to the audience than short news clips.

“It really gives insight not only into the fuller stories of the people there, but also on the scale of the story,” he told AFP.

“20 Days In Mariupol” offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Chernov risked his life to document Russia’s frontal attack on a maternity hospital, which sparked outrage around the world.

The film recounts how Chernov and his team desperately tried to escape the city in order to pass on their shocking footage, even as Russian officials tried to dismiss the horrifying incident. as a hoax using Ukrainian “actors”.

Chernov says Mariupol “is the first insight into how the Russian narrative of this war differs from reality”.

Russian officials “have said they are not targeting civilians.”

“You’ll see in the movie I keep asking people, ‘Is the Russian Federation not targeting civilians?’ And you’ll see people say, ‘Oh, that’s right.'”

Moscow’s weaponization of disinformation is also at the heart of “Iron Butterfly,” which gets its name from shrapnel in the Russian-made BUK missile that hit passenger plane MH17 in 2014, killing 298 people.

The film combines news and social media footage with intercepted military audio, to show how Russia’s response to the claim that separatists shot down a Ukrainian military plane, to blame Kyiv for civilian deaths.

It also contrasts with the findings of a comprehensive international investigation into the incident, with Russia’s claim of another hoax.

Director Roman Liubyi said he tries to remain “scientific” and avoid anger when editing the film, because Russian propaganda “is built on emotional impact, emotional cohesion.”

The film highlights that people convicted in absentia by a Dutch court in The Hague for murder are highly unlikely to end up in jail.

“If the downing of the passenger plane had no consequences for the killers, it’s hard to imagine what would (in the future) – if the invasion had no consequences,” he said.

‘Not enough’

The third film “Klondike,” about a family living on the Russian-Ukrainian border when violence broke out in 2014, will receive a special extra at the high-profile film festival in Utah, after winning it. Sundance’s World Film Director Award last year.

Liubyi said Ukraine’s strong performance could only raise the profile of his country’s film industry abroad, but warned “the much harder question is how to achieve something right away.” here and now for the country, for the defense.”

The director hopes to use advertising from Sundance to raise funds for a reconnaissance drone for film buddies currently serving in the Ukrainian army.

“I would like to take this moment to say as a citizen of Ukraine that we are truly grateful to all the international community for helping us defend (our country),” he said.

“But if you’re asking ‘Are there enough weapons?’ Maybe, unfortunately, it’s still not enough.”

He told AFP as top Ukrainian officials on Saturday criticized the “indecision” of the allies after Germany refused to provide tanks to support Kiev in its nearly yearlong war.

Liubyi will bring his film to the Berlin film festival next month.

“Certainly the international audience is growing tired of the topic,” he said.

“It’s hard to keep this fire, this interest… (but) this fight is for our existence.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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