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Standing Up to Expose the Truth at Berlin Film Festival ’24


By Roger Costa


Do we really know what’s true now-a-days? Can we fully trust the daily news, the communication vehicles and the authorities enrolled to protect us, as society? What if the truth for some is not the same for us? How about when we runaway from the truth just to escape consequences, suffering or doubts? Is it coherent?

Painting a darkly funny and devastating portrait of Ukraine amidst the war, director Roman Bondarchuk’s sophomore project announces him as a major cinematic creative force who knows how to tackle on timely issues, such as societal decadence, loyalty, the rise of feminism, and the emotional and economic effects of war, with incredible control and accuracy.

The film follows young biologist Yura who works for a local Museum and is studying some extinct creatures in South Ukraine. There, he witnesses an arson crime, as a group of terrorists burn down an entire forest. When he brings the footage to a news company, he randomly gets a job and starts a personal battle to expose the truth behind the crimes, and the behind-the-scenes of an election campaign. Yura lives with his mother, and is constantly required to help bringing in some income: his mother is struggling to find a job under the circumstances- she is 50 and has a degree in marketing, but no-one will hire her, unless for cleaning services.

At first the opportunity at the newsroom seems the perfect escape to figure out his economic troubles as well as having a safe, stable, and respectable job. But the first conflict surges right the day after he is hired, when he confronts his editor and boss the reason why he didn’t publish the arson story. From that moment on, Yura will understand that the truth has been replaced for the interest of capitalism and manipulation. He teams up with an angry female journalist (she insists on being called as such) to uncover the truth behind the negligence, and suddenly they find themselves involved in a dirtier scandal and much more complicated situation: the suspicious election campaign. I cannot reveal details about this element in the narrative, as the story will do the trick itself, captivating, entertaining and nail-biting, while gradually demonstrating its powerful anti-corruption and humanitarian alert.

What do we really know about history and facts? How much have fake news affected our lives and our perception for what we believe to be truth? These are some of the questions director Bondarchuk brings on to the surface, narrating the story as a coming of age dramedy about a boy who becomes a man when he faces the decadence of human corruption.

While the landscape is being destroyed, the director explores other forms of destruction, such as political, social, humanitarian and moral. In one of his statements, he announced his sadness about the destruction of the South Ukrainian region, the place where he shot most of the film, shortly before the Russian invasion. His film, a brilliant political farce, a thoughtful and provocative comedy, serves as an urgent testament for those who have died during this terrible conflict and the devastation of their homeland.

(The Editorial Office/Redaktsiya World Premiere at the 74th Berlin Film Festival on February 16. It will also screen on February, 17, 18, 22 and 25. Go to for details.)

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