Contenu sensible: Ce film contient des images graphiques de violence et de guerre.
Grand Prix 2017 - Rivne International Film Festival "Dream City", Ukraine
This strikingly graphic and honest documentary is about the human toll of the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine that started in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and was immediately followed by the Russian occupation of parts of southeastern Ukraine. Director Anastasiia Starozhitska and her boyfriend, Ukrainian soldier Valery Lavrenov, each film what’s happening to them and share their feelings with one another. They are together out of frame, and then, later, in the frame. He volunteered for the front; she meets him just after the Battle of Ilovaisk, where he lost his closest brothers-in-arms. While traveling through ruined towns in order to reach him, she strives to understand the essence of war and love. The film follows them trying to live together afterwards.
A word from Tënk
“The truth of war is terrible. And those who know it won’t tell it. And there’s no one to tell it to. No one wants to know this truth”. One of The War Of Chimera’s two main narrators, Valery Lavrenov, recounts confessionally to his camera, after he returns from war himself. The viewer is panning over scenes of various funerals held months later, after the bodies of his closest comrades-in-arms are finally located following the Battle of Ilovaisk in the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2014. Lavr to his battalion-mates, he suffers survivor’s guilt as he muses upon the futility of war—what was it all for?—sensing himself a fool for thinking he’d volunteer to defend his homeland and return in laurels. “There is no victory in war,” he states elsewhere, and this might serve as some sort of tagline for a film that explores the intimate human consequences of armed combat.
Narrated in epistolary format between Lavrenov—first going to war and then returning—and his partner, filmmaker Anastasiia Starozhitska—or Nastya, to him—the couple demonstrate with great tenderness what it is to be so close to someone so far away, and then so far away from someone right beside you. Post-combat PTSD is portrayed without sensationalism and splash but with compassion and insight instead. The idealism of youth—Nastya writes about and films her despair and disappointment watching Maidan cleared in Kyiv, “our revolution” burning like old tires while Lavr sits at the frontlines—is depicted with a home video aesthetic, so that the viewer feels like they are a fly-on-the-wall of their relationship. Cinéma vérité battle scenes evoke the banality of war and its violence, bandages wrapped around bullet wounds, soldiers’ corpses heaved in a pile, and confusion in the chaos. And yet, its main subjects equally naïve to war, as to death, as to love, this intimate diary of a film is even saccharine at times. Is love really what keeps us alive? Having anyone to tell the terror of war to certainly seems enough to save at least Lavr’s life.
Writer, translator, cinephile