Donbass, dir. Sergey Loznitsa, Ukraine 2019, 122 min., Russian with English subtitle
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.
Constructed from 13 episodes, Loznitsa’s engrossing drama Donbass provides a unique take on one of the most disturbing and threatening of contemporary conflicts. After watching amateur videos posted on the internet, Loznitsa constructed his own screenplay, referencing the format of TV reports and the frequent construction of fake news. Donbass is enthusiastically acted, sometimes deliberately theatrical and something of a grotesque tour de force. It’s all brilliantly, if harrowingly, imagined with stunning imagery courtesy of expert cinematographer Oleg Mutu.