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

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom is perhaps best viewed as a primer for Euromaidan and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. Told entirely through the eyes of the protestors, the film captures the immediacy of the conflict in a way that few films have ever been able to capture the urgency of revolutions. The footage is as close to experiencing the events that occurred in Ukraine as one could possibly get, with most of it taken during the actual battles - not from a distance, but in the middle of the conflicts. The footage of the conflicts is extremely violent and profoundly disturbing, demonstrating - even to objective observers - the brutal and excessive force from the Berkut.
The film also successfully captures the hopes and ambitions of the protesters, interviewing a broad swath of Ukrainians - from religious figures, to intellectuals, to working class people. The ambition to make Ukraine part of Europe is quite clear. As a film in support of the protestors, Winter on Fire is a great success.
There are issues with director Evgeny Afinnevsky’s approach, most notably its lack of context. Aside from a brief segment at the beginning of the film - less than a minute - Afinnevsky does little to explain the complex geopolitical, historical, and socio-cultural forces at work in Ukraine. The film also perhaps predictably neglects the significant involvement of the far right in the militarization of the protests, as well as the significant involvement of the United States in fomenting it. The film also doesn’t do a particularly good job of explaining the various factions involved in the Euromaidan, from both sides.
That being said, the film does successfully capture the revolutionary spirit of the events, and makes the viewer feel that he or she is on the ground participating in them. For that, it is successful.


7/10

Comments