Sundance Review: Klondike

Tolik attempt to carry on as normal

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the last few weeks, you’ll have read about the growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia in the news. While the coverage tends to focus on the probability of an invasion and what form one might take, the countries are already ay war and have been for almost eight years. A fact that is seemingly often overlooked by the international media. It casts its shadow over everyday life in Klondike.

It’s 2014 and expectant parents Irka (Oksana Cherkashyna) and Tolik (Sergey Shadrin) are getting ready for the big day. However, there’s a bit of a complication. They live near the Russian border in the Donbas region of Ukraine, in disputed territory, and their house is the unwanted recipient of a stray round. He’s a Separatist sympathiser but doesn’t want to get involved while she thinks they’re all boys running around with guns and has no intention of leaving her home.

Klondike is a sparse and unrelenting tale about the futility, barbarity and idiocy of war over a contested region. What really stands out is the harsh reality of their lives against such a beautiful and dramatic backdrop. They just want to carry on as normal but they’re continuously dragged back into conflict. Everyone is forced to choose a side.  Maryna Er Gorbach’s film focuses on the human cost. Klondike is a brutal and unforgettable drama.

Klondike screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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Next Album review: Beirut - 'Artifacts': a masterful and beautiful voyage through Zach Condon's early years in EPs, Bs and offcuts

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