Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin’s film offers haunting, close-up documentation of a fight for democracy that just a year ago may not have had quite the same salience for an American audience that it does today, as we reckon with agitprop and lies from the Kremlin and our own Kremlin-affiliated politicos.
Ukraine’s Soviet legacy includes a morass of corruption, which has thwarted the country’s democratic ambitions, its economy, and its entry into the European Union. In 2014, a spontaneous pro-democracy protest at Kiev’s central plaza, the Maidan, seemed to embody Ukraine’s potential. It was brutally interrupted as President Viktor Yanukovych cracked down, although ordinary people endured even as the turmoil escalated into a deadly three-month siege. Ultimately, Yanukovych fled.
But that wasn’t the end of the country’s fight. Directors Harris and Sanin provide clear historical and present-day context and furnish alarming proof of Vladimir Putin’s multilayered deceptions. Three pro-Russia “protestors” seen on the news are actually just one woman; there’s the coldhearted cover-up of Russia’s accidental destruction of a tourist-filled commercial Malaysian plane and, not least, the annexation of Crimea. But the filmmakers’ focus is on those ordinary people — including journalists, a medic, even a children’s theater director — who find themselves pitted against Putin’s formidable propaganda machine and military might. They take up arms, tend to their wounded and their dead, and, in some cases, join the government. For them it’s a daunting, ongoing endeavor; for us, it’s a cautionary tale.
Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine
Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin
Now playing, Cinema Village