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Donbass

This disturbing new film from Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, In the Fog) examines the civil conflict in Ukraine through the prism of black humour and the absurd.

Dir-Scr Sergei Loznitsa
Prod Heino Deckert
With Tamara Yatsenko, Liudmila Smorodina, Olesya Zhurakovskaya
Germany-Ukraine-France-Netherlands-Romania
2018
121min
Sales Pyramide International
Subtitles

Constructed from 13 episodes, Loznitsa’s engrossing drama provides a unique take on one of the most disturbing and threatening of contemporary conflicts. After watching amateur videos posted on the internet, Loznitsa constructed his own screenplay, referencing the format of TV reports and the frequent construction of ‘fake news’. Originally conceived in 2015, after the completion of his Maidan documentary, Donbass is enthusiastically acted, sometimes deliberately theatrical and something of a grotesque tour de force. There is no attempt to ‘explain’ the film’s incidents which focus on the human reactions and prejudices underlying political extremes. The most disturbing scene finds a ‘traitor’ tied to a post, abused and beaten to death. It’s all brilliantly – if harrowingly – imagined, with stunning imagery courtesy of expert cinematographer Oleg Mutu.

Peter Hames

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