Friday, February 19, 2016

Movie with Abe: Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky
Released October 9, 2015

With advances in technology over the past decade, public protest and revolution against oppressive regimes have transformed into something wholly different in nature than they used to be. Oscar-nominated documentaries such as “The Square” and “Burma VJ” have painted pictures of citizen urgencies that have put social media to terrific use to spread the word about their causes. One of this year’s Oscar nominees, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” details another modern revolution, one spearheaded by efficient communication and defined by old-fashioned nationality and community determination.

Ukraine has not earned the best reputation since the establishment of its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In July 2014, a passenger airliner was mistakenly shot down during a war between Russia and the Ukraine for control of territory, and that event took place after most of what this film chronicles. Early on, this film establishes Ukraine as an independent state that always felt a tie to Russia that its people sought to break but its government insisted on keeping. President Viktor Yanukovych’s failure to move forward with an official agreement with the European Union was the catalytic event that triggered a protest in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) lasting ninety-three days and igniting a true spirit of change in its people.

“Winter on Fire” presents an extremely strong case for Ukraine defining itself as its own place, showcasing tremendous commitment to the cause across a broad spectrum of populations, all brought together by a passion for the Ukraine that they believe in. The energy of its people is conveyed in a fierce and unwavering way, as many protesters, ranging from a twelve-year-old boy with a hardened attitude and retired military personnel eager to help the cause, are interviewed about their allegiance to what they consider to the country they grew up in and want to continue to live in.

This documentary is one that partially advocates for change but does a more commendable job getting into the trenches and understanding what really defines its people. Parts of the film are immensely disturbing and unsettling, as violence escalates and people are hurt and killed. Like other such documentaries, the solution to one crisis inevitably leads to another, so this cannot be considered a closed or resolved case. Yet this film does a masterful job of getting to the heart of what it meant to be part of a fight for freedom that united everyday people all across one particularly temperamental country.


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