Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, May 20: ALMOST HOLY
Steve Hoover’s portrait of a controversial do-gooder made its debut at Tribeca last year, under its original title, CROCODILE GENNADIY. The doc’s festival circuit has included IDFA, Hamptons, ZagrebDox, Tallinn Black Nights, Maryland, Heartland, San Francisco DocFest, Sidewalk, Bergen, Portland, and One World, among others.
For years, pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko has waged a crusade to save the children of his struggling nation, Ukraine. He regularly patrols Mariupol, picking up abandoned and lost street children, often via force, and brings them to his rehab center, Pilgrim Republic, to kick drugs and a dead-end existence of abuse. While some celebrate his vigilantism, others decry it, making him a frequent guest on local television programs. In his own mind, he’s a savior, and one willing to resort to extreme measures when his corrupt government seems little-inclined to intervene. Mokhnenko makes for a compelling, if confounding, hero and anti-hero in equal parts, a caring father figure for the children he saves – or attempts to – but also a violent demagogue, though one who is often surprisingly funny and charming. He offers himself uncensored for Hoover’s camera, while the filmmaker intercuts Mokhnenko’s relative successes in the early 2000s with present-day footage that tackles Ukraine’s descent into war and chaos even as he continues on his seemingly endless – and hopeless – mission.