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Obvious choice: Why film 'Donbas' became Ukrainian Oscar-nominee?

Author : News Agency 112.ua

The picture will compete for the right to get the most prestigious cinema prize of the world
11:34, 3 September 2018

112 Agency

The Ukrainian Oscar Committee has defined a film that will represent our country in one of the world's greatest film contests. The drama ‘Donbas’ of Serhiy Loznytsia will compete for the American Film Academy award (more commonly known as ‘Oscar’). The picture will be presented in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

However, we are talking so far not about the nomination itself, which will include only five finalists, and not on even a short-list, where there will be a little more (namely - nine) films. So far, ‘Donbas’ has been chosen only by our country, which, like many other members of the world community, wants to participate in the Oscar race-2019. Last year, for example, a record number of such projects was registered - as many as 92. How many films will be presented this time, will be known after October 1, when the American Film Academy will complete the acceptance of applications of several categories, among which is Best Foreign Film. In January, short lists will be made public, the ceremony of determining winners and awarding will be held on February 24.

112 Agency


This year Ukraine chose out of six applicants. In addition to the 'Donbass', the contest included  'Brama' of Vilidymyr Tykhyi, 'Vulcan' of Roman Bondarchuk, 'Cyborgs' of Akhtem Seitablayev, 'When the Trees Fall' of Marysia Nikityuk and 'Myth' of Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasniy. The selection was very strict - even the members of the Oscar Committee themselves admit that the level of candidates was higher than ever.

Some of the films managed to develop their own festival history, which also had an impact on the choice of the applicant. In particular, in addition to the votes of the selectors the participation and victories in the category "A" festivals, as well as the availability of reviews in the leading international media, had an impact on the final result. For each available item the participant received one additional point.

As a result, the Loznytsia film collected three additional points, while the pictures 'Vulcan' and 'When the trees fall' received two, and the rest - nothing. Votes were distributed as follows: for the "Donbas" six members of the committee out of eleven people voted, the films Vulcan and "When the trees fell" received two votes and one got 'Cyborgs'. It turns out that the total winner earned nine points, which is at least twice as large as that of the nearest competitors.

112 Agency


"Thus, according to the counting of votes, the applicant of Ukraine to take part in the Oscar award in the category" Best Foreign Language Film "for 2018 is the film Donbas directed by Serhiy Loznytsia," Alik Shpiliuk, head of the Oscar Committee, summed up.

However, as already mentioned, the world premiere of the picture took place somewhat earlier. In May this year, it has opened the section "A Special Look" - the second most important competition in Cannes. And Loznytsia received a prize for the best direction. In addition, recently it became known that Donbas entered the long list of the European Film Academy Award, and his North American debut will take place at a prestigious festival in Toronto, which will begin in a week.

All this, of course, plays into the hands of the film and increases its chances in the Oscar race. "The American Film Academy has a complex selection system, so it's very difficult to predict anything, but the best option to be noticed is to be seen before it goes to the Oscar. And the Donbas was noticed much earlier," explained the head Counting Commission of the Ukrainian Oscar Committee Serhiy Vasiliev and added that the committee and the entire structure of the selection process was organized in such a way that the film presented by Ukraine had the maximum chance of attracting the attention of the selectors.

Alexander Gusev, a colleague and member of the Oscar Committee, supported the opinion of the colleague and member of the Oscar Committee, who noted that in part this choice was due to the fact that the film received the greatest international resonance. However, the key evaluation criterion, he said, was the high level of implementation of the project: "I want to congratulate all of us with the fact that Ukraine on this international platform, in this nomination will represent an artistically powerful film in which aesthetic and ethical qualities have come in a happy This is a film that, on the one hand, shows all the colors of Ukrainian modernity, but it is a very universal, very understandable story about what happens to human nature, which is no longer contained by the fear of punishment or is under this fear."

112 Agency

"Donbas" really makes a strong impression. It is built on a dozen of virtually unrelated plots, but equally sharp and stunning. In the center of attention, as it is easy to guess by name, are the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine - their new illegal power, as well as military and ordinary citizens. At the heart of the film Loznytsia put real stories, which people shared through video clips posted on the Internet. Rethinking their stories, the director made a production picture, in which he deliberately raised the degree of absurdity to the maximum. Thanks to this technique, a persistent sense of the improbability of what is happening is created, but an understanding of its life component at times reinforces an already powerful social message.

In his work, the director constantly balances on the brink of documentary and farce. He examines what is happening with the equanimity of the outside observer, exaggerating nuances, but leaving the viewer to decide who is right and who is wrong. And although the answers during the viewing may seem obvious, "Donbas" in no way promotes the idea of some exceptional congenital depravity of southeastern Ukrainians. The film, first of all, reveals the essence of human nature and only then – the citizens of a particular country, caught up in such circumstances, which allowed many of them (but, well, not all) to sacrifice their morality and to show unpunishedly the worst qualities of their nature.



Thanks to these hypertrophied stories, it becomes clearly visible in what conditions residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine exist. This makes it possible to fully understand the scale and essence of what is happening. And, not only the rest of the Ukrainians, who at times tend to abstract from the horrors of the "neighboring hut", but the whole world, often shortsighted about other people's problems.

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