- Nikki Baughan
- 16 February 2015
Excellent documentary from Sergei Loznitsa which shows the power of protest
On February 20th, 2014, a clash between protestors and police in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) saw over 50 people lose their lives, and marked the beginning of the end of Viktor Yanukovych's contentious presidency. Released on the first anniversary of the massacre, Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa's film eschews modern documentary techniques to present a more traditional, freeform look at the months of protest over Yanukovych's decision to align with Russia, and is all the more powerful for this unflinching approach.
Devoid of the by-the-numbers context we have come to expect from contemporary documentaries, Maidan is slow, disorienting and brilliant. Informative captions are brief and sparse, there are no talking heads to provide social or political analysis, and Loznitsa has chosen not to follow any specific individuals or groups. Instead, he fixes his camera at various points in and around the square to capture tableaux of noise and activity that are held for several minutes at a time.
In this way, the film doesn't allow its audience the comfort of distance, staying in the middle of the protest as it evolves from peaceful occupation to violent confrontation. The camera remains stoic as smoke fills the screen, fires blaze, missiles are thrown and casualties become inevitable, while the occasional panicked voices heard over the loudspeaker – 'God Almighty people, you forgot your human nature!' – underscore the human cost of the cacophony to which we bear witness. And it is impossible to look away.
With the wealth of neatly packaged information available at our fingertips it's easy to forget that such seismic events do not unfold quickly and in convenient bullet points, and that the path to change is usually built on the considerable sacrifices of ordinary people moved to action – 'Voice is freedom! Silence is slavery!' shouts one protestor. Maidan is a vibrant, fitting and entirely humbling celebration of all those who dare to speak out.
Selected release from Fri 20 Feb.