The documentary debuted at the Telluride Film Festival this week and the trailer was released today (Sept. 9).
It’s officially titled “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.” It charts the conflict from the beginning of student protests to the outbreak of war in just 93 days in 2013 and 2014, according to the film’s synopsis.
But the murkiness of the battle begins with the title. By being billed a “fight for freedom,” the documentary obviously takes sides.
The issue that split the Ukraine was a movement to build greater ties with Western Europe. Moscow-leaning President Viktor F. Yanukovich opposed stronger ties, sparking violent protests.
He was forced to resign, even though he had been democratically elected. The development opened the door for Russia to move militarily and annex Crimea, traditionally a part of the Ukraine.
Pro-Russian separatists, with tacit Russian support, began fighting for more autonomy in Eastern Ukraine, which borders Russia. The conflict has since escalated into all-out warfare.
The struggle is old and bitter. Ukrainian nationalists have always bridled under Russian domination. They even sided with Germany in World War II.
Director Evgeny Afineevsky makes a clear political statement with “Winter on Fire.” But his focus is on the struggles and hardships of student protesters rather than the politics.
Students faced violence and heavy-handed tactics by Yanukovich’s government to suppress them.
This isn’t Netflix’s first foray into political documentaries. It’s 2011 documentary, “The Square,” about Egypt’s 2011 political revolution, was nominated for an Oscar.
The documentary had its world premiere at the 72nd Venice Film Festival this month and will begin airing on Netflix Oct. 9.
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