Out of six contenders, Ukraine has selected Sergei Loznitsa’s tragicomedy Donbass to compete for selection in the foreign-language Oscar race to take place in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019.
Based on documentary materials and filmed in Kryvyi Rih (southeast of Ukraine), Donbass is a coproduction between Ukraine, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
“The movie’s budget equalled about 72 million UAH with state support amounting to 23.5% or nearly 17 million UAH,” comments Serhiy Neretin, First Deputy Head of Ukraine’s State Film Agency.
The movie is, at times, not an easy-watch and highlights the ongoing conflict in the country’s eastern regions fuelled by Kremlin-directed forces. The plot focuses on people forced to adapt to living on the occupied territory amidst a drastic collapse in family values, professional ties, and all institutions. Is it possible to preserve dignity and reason in a world dominated by lies and propaganda?
Movie critic Oleksandr Husev comments: “While reflecting a Ukrainian contemporary drama, it is a universal narration demonstrating what happens to human nature when fear of punishment is lost or, on the contrary, bends under a burden of this fear.”
The movie has all chances to be shortlisted for Oscar contention as it already won the hearts of European audiences at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Donbass opened the Un Certain Regard section and even got Loznitsa a best director prize in this category. Though he did not attend the ceremony, he sent in his statement: “In the past few days, when talking to journalists and filmmakers from all over the world, I realised how little they knew about this ongoing war right in the heart of Europe.”
So far, Donbass has been presented at festivals in Karlovy Vary, Munich, Melbourne, Jerusalem, Toronto, and Odesa. In Kyiv, its official premiere was scheduled on 18 October. However, according to the Academy Awards requirements, it will be screened earlier – during the week of 20 to 27 September in Zhovten Cinema. Make sure you get a ticket.