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Preview! Close Relations - a rounded picture of the conflict in Ukraine

Tuesday 17 January 2017, by Abla Kandalaft

Friday sees the release of Close Relations (Rodnye), Vitaly Manksy’s exploration of both sides of the recent conflict in Ukraine, shedding light on its impact on civilians in Ukraine, Russia and the separatist Donbass region. The documentary will be screened at Berta Dochouse from Fridau 20 January.

Trailer available here.

Synopsis: Critically acclaimed filmmaker Vitaly Mansky’s intimate new documentary finds him crisscrossing Ukraine in the wake of the Maidan uprising, which has left his relatives scattered on both sides of a highly charged and dizzyingly complex political situation.

Vitaly Mansky was born and raised in Ukraine. He went to Moscow to study and was just starting his filmmaking career when the Soviet Union collapsed. Suddenly Mansky was a Russian citizen, though most of his large family continued to live in Ukraine.

Beginning with Ukraine’s 2014 federal election, Close Relations unfolds over the course of perhaps the most difficult year in the country’s history since the end of the Second World War: a period of economic chaos, bloody conflict, and heated debate over the question of whether to integrate with Europe or maintain strong ties to Russia.

Mansky visits family in Lvov, Odessa, the Crimean peninsula, and the separatist Donbass region. He allows his relatives to speak freely about a national crisis that becomes only more dramatic and divisive with ex-president Viktor Yanukovych’s flight to Russia. What emerges is a fractured family album, the assessment of a national identity crisis, and the chronicle of a year in the life of a country in tumultuous transition.

With his elegantly composed camerawork, Mansky is an ideal observer. He is both a native and a foreigner, easily generating trust with his subjects while also able to provoke them with difficult questions. Close Relations is an opportunity to examine a time of sweeping change through the eyes of someone uniquely poised to view it, both from within and without.

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