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exBlicks Special: Donbas(s) on Film

4 films – 4 original takes on the embattled region

Valentyn Vasyanovych:

Atlantis – Атлантида (OmeU)

Tuesday, 26 September, 8:45 pm

followed by discussion

Ukraine 2019, 104 min, directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych, with Andriy Rymaruk, Liudmyla Bileka, Vasyl Antoniak

Eastern Ukraine in a no–so distant, post-apocalyptic, postwar future: the country has become an inhospitable desert. Former soldier Sergey, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, finds it difficult to adapt to the new reality and to see his homeland lying in ruins. One day he decides to join a group of volunteers who take care of exhuming the bodies of soldiers from the rubble mountains. There he meets Katya and a better future suddenly seems possible.

This beautifully lensed parable sheds a bleak, apocalyptic light on the disastrous impact of the war between Ukraine and Russia on the Donbas.

The film premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, won the Venice Horizons Award for Best Film and was Ukraine’s official selection for the 2021 Academy Awards.

Valentyn Vasyanovych
Valentyn Vasyanovych

The prolific Ukrainian director, producer and DoP was born in 1971 in Zhytomyr, western Ukraine. Valentyn Vasyanovych made his directorial debut in 2012, with Business as Usual his first full length feature film (Odessa IFF, Special Jury Mention, FICC Award). In 2014, the documentary Crepuscule (Prymersk) earned him the top award at the Odessa Film Festival. He also worked as a producer and DoP on Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe, which became Ukraine’s biggest international success with more than 40 awards including Cannes’ Grand Prix. Atlantis is his 5th film as a director.


followed by discussion


exBlicks Special: Donbas(s) on Film

4 films – 4 original takes on the embattled region

a mini festival curated and hosted by Nadja Vancauwen­berghe

25+26 September

Who cared or even knew much about Donbas(s) until Putin’s invasion of Ukraine brought the Russian-speaking border region to the news agenda?

February 24, 2022, marked the beginning of a war that has caused millions of people to flee their homes, more casualties than meets the media eye (200,000 on both sides) and a global geopolitical realignment along the conflict divide.

But for the people of Donbas(s), war began in 2014 when Kyiv’s military forces sought to crack down on the Russia-backed separatist unrest in the country’s eastern provinces. By February 2022, the fighting had already killed 14,000 and forced millions to flee.

Today, the shell-blasted, mined-filled and trench-marked landscape of Donbas(s) bears witness to the physical ravages of a murderous conflict.

But the region is also an ideological minefield: loyalty-torn, partially Russian-occupied, the Donbas(s) has been at the heart of a propaganda war in which (social) media have been powerful tools in further polarising minds along irreconcilable extremes.

Today there are at least two Donbasses – the region’s very spelling supposed to give away one’s allegiance to one side or the other. It’s Donbas if you mean to show support to Ukraine. But then again Sergei Loznitsa’s film is titled Donbass, although its maker is an outspoken Ukraine/Zelensky supporter.

This mini film festival is not attempting to bring truths or take sides. We humbly rely on the power of cinema and firsthand accounts to shed light on an underreported part of the Ukraine conflict.

The programme is eclectic: four takes on one war by four filmmakers with little in common but their bafflement and horror at how violence broke out and wrecked this part of Ukraine.

Whether small docs or award-winning fiction, their films bear witness to the human tragedy that has been unfolding in Donbas(s) since 2014, years before Putin’s invasion finally brought the region’s plight to Western media’s attention.

As usual, the screenings will be followed by Q&As with filmmakers, while special guests will help bring context and answer questions.

We hope for lively discussions, to be continued in the Kino foyer over (Georgian) wine!

ExBlicks – A monthly Film & Chat Series in English
curated by Nadja Vancauwenberghe in cooperation with Lichtblick-Kino

Watch German and foreign films and meet the people who make them in a real Kiez Kino!
All screenings with English subtitles, followed by Q&As in English with the filmmakers – and a customary glass of wine after the screenings!


Fr 29.09.

keine Vorstellung

Fr 06.10.

keine Vorstellung