All eyes on Russia and Ukraine
Cinema always plays a relevant role in reflecting experiences during conflicts. That is no different as Russia throws Ukraine into chaos.
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The Unwomanly Face of War is the title of a book written by the renowned writer and Nobel Prize for Literature, Svetlana Alexievich. Throughout the more-than-300-page masterpiece, Alexievich reviews the memories of a million women who fought in the Red Army in World War II. Every chapter is a portrait of the impact that violence has had on these women's bodies, mental health, and their ability and willingness to remember.
After reading Alexievich's shocking story, all that remains is to agree: war does not have a woman's face. It has the innocent faces of Ukrainian babies, children, youth, adults, and grandparents who, this week, have been woken up by the roar of Russian attacks. Between missiles, Ukrainian civilians are facing fear, concern for their families, and anguish over a puzzling future, all while trying to keep calm and survive.
Like Alexievich, many other authors around the world have written about the blood spilled in armed conflicts. About mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, orphans, and cities left empty by mass exodus or ruined by incessant bombing.
Film, like literature, has a valuable legacy to portray universal history, and many filmmakers have also worked to make visualize, on the big and small screen, testimonies and characters buried by war and voices that weapons failed to silence.
Meanwhile, Russian troops continue to advance in Kiev, and Western countries are preparing to welcome refugees. To understand more about how we got here, check out this list of movies and television series that provide different views for a better understanding of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
“When war is called 'peace,' when propaganda is presented as the truth, when hate is called 'love,' that is where life itself begins to resemble death,” is the synopsis of this movie directed by the acclaimed director Sergey Loznitsa.
The film, released in 2018, won numerous awards at international festivals, and the Ukrainian Film Academy awarded it top prizes for Best Director, Screenplay and Film. It was also been chosen to represent Ukraine in Oscars.
This documentary, also directed by Loznitsa, offers a fresh look at current Ukrainian society. It portrays protests that occurred in Maidan, the central square of the capital city Kiev between 2013 and 2014, against the former president Viktor F. Yanukovych, a confidant of Vladimir Putin and increasingly distant from the European Union.
The movements were marked by state violence and repression.
It is available on Filmin.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
The same 2013-2104 protests have also inspired this Netflix original production, which is next on the list.
This feature film, nominated in 2015 at the Oscars for Best Documentary, recounts how peaceful student demonstrations in the streets of Ukraine turned into a revolution. The historic protests demanded civil rights and Yanukovych's resignation.
The Putin System
Putin is an enigmatic figure not only for Russians, but also for the rest of the world. Much has been written and filmed about the Kremlin strongman and former KGB agent, who will turn 70 in October 2022.
Jean-Michel Carré and Jill Emery joined the discussion in 2007 as they searched for answers about unrevealed aspects of this politician's life, and his proximity to power and authoritarianism.
Their film is available on Amazon Prime Video.
The Putin Interviews
What would you ask Vladimir Putin if given the chance to talk to him? Film director Oliver Stone was one of the first people from the West with the opportunity to do so for a recent series.
The filmmaker explored — as much as was allowed — the life of the current Russian president: from his childhood, family, and political career to his vision of international affairs.
The interviews took place over two years, and the production aired four episodes.