In Theatres: MAIDAN

maidanComing to theatres this Friday, December 12: MAIDAN

Sergei Loznitsa’s front line chronicle of the Ukrainian protests made its world premiere at Cannes this May. It has screened extensively since, including berths at Toronto, London, Karlovy Vary, Vancouver, DOK Leipzig, Zurich, Sarajevo, and IDFA, among others.

Filmed between December 2013 and February 2014, as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians gathered at the historic, titular square to demand their country align with the European Union, Loznitsa’s rigorously formalist portrait documents the mood of the crowd as the situation shifts from righteous euphoria to embattled revolution. Composed of a series of static, widescreen shots, the film foregrounds the idea of mass protest – there are no individuals here, no cutaways to interviews, no identification of protest leaders – as the business of revolution is carried out, from the logistics of distributing food and other supplies to the camaraderie-building singing of songs. While Loznitsa resists providing much in the way of context, allowing diegetic announcements to provide the scene setting, the audience soon enough makes sense of what is transpiring around them. As time passes, and the government bans the protest, the mood changes, with altercations taking place between protestors and armed police, tear gas fired at the cameraman, necessitating the camera’s only real movement as it captures the commotion and concern. While its initial slow-moving pace may tax some viewers’ patience, the film’s ability to envelop its audience within the unfolding revolution proves to have quite the impact, making this a memorable entry in the recent spate of protest documentaries that have emerged in the wake of such events as Occupy and the Arab Spring.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

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