Journal scribblings: Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom (2015)

Winter On Fire is now available on Netflix worldwide, and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars.

Essential, really. Deeply affecting, with a situation as angering and tragic as this and footage as raw, it’s hard to not be utterly riveted, horrified, and involved after journeying through over three months of slowly escalating brutality. So much of the emotional impact comes from the immediate organisation on the part of the people, and the fact that the crowd refuses to diminish or return to their lives. They’re here for change, and won’t stop until they get it. The presentation is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, and it’s strange to be saying this only days after I criticised another documentary for having a conventional presentation, but Afineevsky expertly assembles the endless reels of incredible footage (reason enough to make the film, really) and countless personalities to construct a focused film that barely stops to take a breath in its tight 80 minute runtime. It’s less clear-eyed political analysis/an explainer of the entire situation in Ukraine than a tribute to the power of the human spirit, something that Afineevsky doesn’t make any effort to disguise, and an emotional exploration of the effects of violence as the protests escalate from peaceful to an all-out bloody war out of self-defense.

Rating: 4.5/5

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