The situation in Eastern Ukraine has scarcely been out of the news over the last few months. The battle for supremacy between Russia and the West is not a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming an increasingly dangerous one. As a precursor to the current troubles, the Ukrainian parliament decided against signing an association agreement with the EU in November 2013. Ordinary Ukrainians decided to vent their anger against President Viktor Yanukovych and the government by staging a protest in Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti).
Beginning at the start of the dissent, Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary follows the crowds in the square as the action spills into the new year. He follows the increasingly violent events which lead up to the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution. Filmed in a cinema vérité style, Maidan does nothing but observe the proceedings. From eavesdropping the speeches to being in the trenches, the camera mills around providing a record for posterity.
Loznitsa’s style of film making has both its pros and cons. As bystanders we can only guess who the speakers are and events are sometimes unclear. Maidan feels more like a record of the struggle against oppression across the modern world rather than trying to make any firm political point. We see events from around the world on the news. Maidan is an opportunity to see it from the a turning point in Ukrainian history from the inside. Whilst you feel like a mere spectator for most of Loznitsa’s film, the final scene demonstates just how much it gets under your skin.
Maidan is out in selected cinemas on Friday.