8 Films to Understand the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

These films show different perspectives that allow us to understand what is happening in Eastern Europe in the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict..

Still from the documentary 'Maidan' by Sergei Loznitsa

Photo: Cannes Film Festival

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: 8 filmes recomendados para entender el conflicto ruso-ucraniano

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for several weeks now and has a history older than the two countries in their current configuration. In this list we recommend some films to better understand the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict, some of a propagandistic nature, others with deep criticism and even one that can be considered an allegory of the situation. The political, social and, above all, humanitarian point of view are present in this selection.

Maidan, Sergei Loznitsa (2014)

The rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union generated hope among a large number of Ukrainians of accessing better living conditions and of having a modern and thriving democracy, similar to the achievements of Western Europe. However, the government of Víktor Yanukovych stopped this aspiration, which led thousands of people to protest against him. Independence Square (Maidan) witnessed this process that ended with the president's flight, Loznista documented the demonstrations and riots from within, which gives us an interesting x-ray of the event.

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, Evgeny Afineevsky (2015)

Like Maidan, Winter on Fire is a sample of what happened at Euromaidan, as the wave of protests against the Ukrainian government was also called. Brutality was the main weapon of the State to try to stop the demonstrations, but the result was the opposite. Russia and Ukraine are not simply two countries indifferent to each other, they share common roots, in addition to the border ties that give the conflict overtones of brotherhood.

Leviathan, Andrei Zviagintsev (2014)

Russian film nominated for an Oscar for Best International Film, tells the story of Kolya , a man from a coastal town whose property is threatened by the ambitions of Vadim, the mayor. The work focuses on showing the unscrupulous actions that can be used to achieve something, which is why it is a sample of the darkest of the human essence. The parallelism that we can find with the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not only in the dispossession of the land of Kolya, but in the use of the political and legal apparatus and even public opinion by those who exercise power .

Donetsk, Sergei Loznitsa (2018)

One of the origins of the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict is the pro-Russian regions, which are supported by Moscow. This led to the creation of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, whose protection Russia took as one of the pretexts to invade Ukraine. Sergei Loznitsa's Donetsk is a film in episodes, which show dark portraits of the situation in that disputed region. Hate, corruption and war in a raw visual and narrative portrait.

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The Last Men in Aleppo, Firas Fayyad (2017)

In the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011, the United States and Russia supported two of the three contending sides: the opposition and the government, respectively. Armed attacks destroyed cities and killed thousands of people, as well as millions displaced by the war. This documentary shows the men who decided to stay in Syria and look for survivors in the rubble. In 2022, the United States and Russia face each other indirectly, the population of Ukraine is in the middle, a parallel with Syria that shows us how far the population can be affected.

The Earth is Blue as an Orange, Iryna Tsilyk (2020)

A film about the War in Donbas, in The Land is Blue as an Orange a documentary about the production of a film is produced. Tsilyk follows a family that in the midst of conflict decides to produce a film, it is somehow a way of facing their reality. The document attests to the difficult situation for the civilian population in a region ravaged by war, thus criticizing the consequences of the conflict and at the same time moving the attempt to move forward despite the difficulties.

Putin Forever?, Kirill Nenashev (2015)

Vladimir Putin is a complex character, he is a leader who has been admired by many for putting Russia back at the center of world decisions after the disintegration of the USSR and the turbulent decade that followed. However, he is also a dark character, in Putin Forever? There is a follow-up of the Russians' feelings about their president, from activism there is concern about Putin's actions and if he will continue in power for a long time.

Blood, Alina Rudnitskaya (2013)

The focus of attention is on the civilian population of Ukraine ravaged by the conflict, which has caused them to flee to other parts of Europe. Although the Russian population has not yet suffered the armed conflict on its territory, it does suffer the ravages of the sanctions imposed on its country. At the moment they may not be noticeable but over time they could be visible. Blood is a sample of other moments of crisis that Russian citizens have experienced, in this documentary we see people selling their blood in order to survive and what that means to them. In 2022 it is still up in the air how far the Russian population will go in the face of the economic pressure in which Russia finds itself and which will get tougher.

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