Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom (2015)
Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky
Written by Den Tolmor
Throughout parts of 2013 and 2014, the people of Ukraine quietly built up an army of peaceful protesters. What started as student demonstrations supporting European integration quickly grew into a revolution met with violence. Soon, thousands of people joined together in calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.
This film is one of the five documentaries nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, this is a unique inside look at uprising in the Ukraine. The movie does an interesting job highlighting the major events that occurred throughout the Euromaidan protests. The film focuses on accounts given by a handful of the thousands of people who were involved. This gives a very personal touch to the film, but also a very narrow focus.
The footage shown throughout the documentary shows the peaceful beginnings of the protests, as well as the heavy-handed response by the government police forces. Some of the footage is shockingly violent, showing the results of many different clashes between protesters and those hired to stop them. There are also interesting moments of jubilation captured, when small victories were announced to the anxious crowds. Like the rebellion itself, this documentary is a combination of highs and lows. The loss of life, and the sacrifices made by the protesters are all given equal time.
The weakness of this movie comes from the narrow focus of the stories it tells. By using only a handful of protesters to tell the story, the movie doesn’t address some events that these people weren’t a part of. The documentary also didn’t provide anything to show the other side of the story. This leaves the tale feeling uneven and sometimes too simple. Revolutions aren’t ever simple, and this seems to do an injustice to the bigger picture. It would’ve also been nice to see some interview work done with people on the outside of the rebellion in the Ukraine.
This is a good documentary, but not a great one. If you’re looking for a small peek into a bigger story this might be okay for you. Otherwise, this is a documentary that only tells certain sides of a story. Some of the footage is riveting, and the emotion in moments is very powerful. I give this one 2.8 out of 5 stars.