moviesDONBASS

DONBASS / 2018

SYNOPSIS

In the Donbass, a region of Eastern Ukraine, a hybrid war takes place, involving an open armed conflict alongside killings and robberies on a mass scale perpetrated by separatist gangs. In the Donbass, war is called peace, propaganda is uttered as truth and hatred is declared to be love. A journey through the Donbass unfolds as a chain of curious adventures, where the grotesque and drama are as intertwined as life and death. This is not a tale of one region, one country or one political system. It is about a world, lost in post-truth and fake identities. It is about each and every one of us.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

original title
ДОНБАСС [DONBASS]
english title
DONBASS
genre
feature
country
Germany, Ukraine, France, Netherlands, Romania
year
2018
language
Ukrainian, Russian
subtitle
English
color
color
runtime
121 min
sound
5.1
aspect ratio
2.35 : 1
film format
DCP-2K

CREW

written & directed
Sergei Loznitsa
director(s) of photography
Oleg Mutu R.S.C.
production designer
Kirill Shuvalov
costume designer
Dorota Roqueplo
sound
Vladimir Golovnitski
editing
Danielius Kokanauskis
co-producer(s)
Dennis Ivanov, Jacques Bidou, Cristian Nicolescu, Marc van Warmerdam, Peter Warnier
producer(s)
Heino Deckert
co-production
ARTHOUSE TRAFFIC (Ukraine), JBA PRODUCTION (France), GRANIET FILM (Netherlands), WILD AT ART (Netherlands), DIGITAL CUBE (Romania)
production
MA.JA.DA. Fiction

CAST

Tamara Yatsenko
Liudmila Smorodina
Olesya Zhurakovskaya
Boris Kamorzin
Sergei Russkin
Petro Panchuk
Irina Plesnyaeva
Zhanna Lubgane
Vadim Dobuvsky
Alexander Zamurayev
Gerogy Deliev
Valeriu Andriuta
Konstantin Itunin
Valery Antoniuk
Nina Antonova
Natalia Buzko
Sergei Kolesov
Svetlana Kolesova
Sergei Smeyan

"Donbass": Cannes Reviewby Jonathan Romney, 2018-05-09, www.screendaily.com

Even by the standards of his caustic debut fiction feature My Joy (2010) or last year’s descent-into-hell drama A Gentle Creature, Donbass comes across as savage stuff. A sprawling black comedy with a vast ensemble cast, it evokes a chaotic state of social breakdown in the Donbass region of Ukraine, often with virtuoso brilliance, but it’s sometimes over-stretched vignettes can easily tax the overwhelmed viewer.

"Donbass": Film Review | Cannes 2018by Leslie Felperin, 2018-05-09, www.hollywoodreporter.com

Tackling a bloody struggle that these days barely registers in the media beyond the region itself, despite the fact that the shady Ukrainian connections to President Donald Trump and his cronies keep bobbing up in the news, the film feels timely and borne of deep-held despair at the senseless strife tearing the country apart.

Donbass first look: both too much and too little about the war in Ukraineby James Lattimer , 2018-05-10, www.bfi.org.uk

Yet the fascination exerted by these interstitial moments is largely a reflection of the misjudged nature of many of the episodes, which often either fail to make an impression or outstay their welcome, or even do both at the same time. The wearyingly shouty, over-extended wedding scene, for example, says at once too much and too little about the system that now governs the Donbass.

Cannes 2018. Correspondences #3: Weed in Colombia, War in Ukraineby Daniel Kasman, 2018-05-11, www.mubi.com

A film at once electric and morose, Donbassserves as a guide to the malignant darkness shrouding over the eastern part of the Ukraine: fiction filmmaking with combative intent and a powerful sense of necessity.

Cannes 2018 Dispatch #2: Donbass, Petraby Blake Williams , 2018-05-11, www.filmmakermagazine.com

The experience is veritably nightmarish—an unforgiving wallow in images of humanity at its worst—and if I have any hesitation in declaring this, after a single viewing, to be a great, even monumental achievement, it’s generated by my uneasiness regarding Loznitsa’s decision to obfuscate many of his episodes’ political specificity.

Donbass Cannes 2018 Reviewby Giovanni Marchini Camia, 2018-05-19, www.thefilmstage.com

In strict terms of craft, Donbass is an impressive achievement, but its heavy-handedness nevertheless feels inordinate. Since Loznitsa doesn’t provide almost any historical and political context, it’s unlikely that anyone without prior knowledge of the war in Donbass will come out with much actual insight into what’s going on there.

Cold Wars: The 2018 Cannes Film Festivalby Daniel Fairfax, 2018-06-27, www.sensesofcinema.com

Loznitsa’s procedure becomes heavy-handed and contemptuous. . . . This tendentiousness becomes flagrant in the film’s implausible final scene, which pushes the contrast between his understated form and the dubious nature of his content to unhinged extremes. You don’t have to be a Putin booster to feel that, with Donbass, a great filmmaker has discredited himself.

Festivals: Drifting Apartby Kent Jones, 2018-07-03, www.filmcomment.com

Unlike last year’s A Gentle Creature, whose pursuit of the random and the lethargic resulted in a film that felt almost unattended, Donbass is piercing and impressively relentless, and its best scenes possess a believably banal and terrifying momentum.

Donbass - Contemporary World CinemaBy Richard Porton, 2018-08-31, www.cinema-scope.com

Donbass’ near-Buñuelian episodic structure (in interviews, Loznitza cites The Phantom of Liberty as an influence) acquires a cumulative power.

"Reality" as Embattled Story: Donbass in Odesa and Their Own Republic at Doclisboaby Carmen Gray, 2018-12-20, www.sensesofcinema.com

In perhaps the most harrowing scene of all, unbearable in its gradual mood shift and escalation, a man is tied to a pole with a sign announcing him to passersby as a pro-Ukrainian mercenary killer. Its intricate weave of interaction is a lesson not only in how mobs function, but how traumatic experiences and attitudes passed down through generations move virally and boil up again with little need of prodding.

First Look 2019: Donbass and The Trialby Daniel Witkin , 2019-01-11, www.reverseshot.org

Donbass is the film in which Loznitsaʼs work as both fiction and documentary filmmaker come into closest harmony. Comprised of largely disconnected, almost sketch-like fragments (the director has cited Buñuelʼs Phantom of Liberty as an influence), the film has a pronounced ripped- from-the-headlines quality, even as it casts doubt on the veracity of the headlines themselves.

festivals & awards

  • Cannes Film Festival - Un Certain Regard - Opening FilmPrize For Best Director
  • Reykjavik Film FestivalAward For Creative Excellence In Cinema
  • Art Film Fest Košice in Slovakia
  • Filmfest München
  • Karlovy Vary Film Festival
  • Odessa Film Festival
  • Garage museum of contemporary art in Moscow – Special Screening
  • Jerusalem Film festival – Masters Section
  • Summer Film School in Czech Republic
  • Melbourne Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • BIAFF (Batumi International Art-house Film Festival) - Competition
  • Helsinki Film Festival
  • CPH PIX
  • New World Views
  • Bergen International Film Festival
  • Split Film Festival
  • Busan International Film Festival - World Cinema
  • Cape Town Film Festival
  • 62nd BFI London Film Festival
  • Warsaw Film Festival
  • Bosphorus Film Festival in Istanbul
  • 29th Ljubljana International Film Festival
  • Stockholm International Film Festival - Competition
  • Sevilla European Film Festival - Competition
  • Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
  • Black Nights Film Festival
  • Cairo International Film FestivalBest Director - The Silver Pyramid