A Peak Into The Backstage Of The News
“My film brings the viewer to the backstage of the news” Ukrainian director Maryna Er Gorbach says in an interview with „Cineuropa“ about her film Klondike (2022), which is the opening film at Stockfish this year. The film is about a Ukrainian family that lives on the borders of Russia and Ukraine in the start of the Russo-Ukraine war that began in 2014 and is, in many ways, a precursor of the terrible war currently raging in Ukraine.
Excitement that became fear
In the film we follow the expecting parents, Irka and Tolik that live in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine near the Russian boarder, which was and is a disputed territory in regard to the war. The anticipation of their first child’s birth suddenly turns into extreme fear as the vicinal crash of flight “MH17” elevates the tension surrounding their village. The looming wreckage of the downed airliner and an incoming parade of mourners emphasize the surreal trauma that they endure. Irka refuses to be evacuated even as the village gets captured by armed forces. She tries to make peace between Tolik and her brother, that suspects the couple of betraying Ukraine, by asking them to repair their bombed house.
The complex effect of war
“MH17” refers to the Malaysian plane that was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on the 17th of July in 2014 when it was shot down while flying over the eastern part of Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members died in the crash which is the deadliest airliner shootdown incident to date. Investigation on the crash concluded that the plane had been shot down by pro-Russian separatists. A few months before the terrorist attack on the plane, a war between Russia and Ukraine had broken out in clashes over the Crimea and Donbas regions. Following Russia’s major military build-up around Ukraine‘s boarders in late 2021 the conflict escalated sharply when Russia began the current invasion on the 24th of February 2022.
In Klondike we see how innocent and everyday people are affected by the war that started in 2014 in many and complex ways. Tolik’s separationists friends expect him to join them while Irka’s brother suspects them of betraying Ukraine. In addition to the complex trauma they endure, they are therefore also caught up within the tension of the conflict. Hence, it is nowhere near easy for the expectant parents to navigate this new war-torn reality.
Q&A with Oksana Cherkashyna
The leading actress of the movie, the Ukrainian Oksana Cherkashyna will be present at the opening and will also answer questions at a Q&A afterwards. She is born in 1988 and has acted both in theatre and films. She graduated from Kharkiv National University of Arts in 2010 and currently works for the Kyiv Theatre. In films she is best known for the role in Natalie Vorozhbyt’s film, “Bad Roads” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and where she won Kinokolo Award for Best actress in 2020.
A film that reflects what the people are going through
Among a jury’s award at the Berlianle festival Klondike has also received a directing award at the Sundance festival. The film’s director, Maryna Er Gorbach is an award winning director known for the films Omar and Us (2019), Love Me (2013) and Black Dogs Barking (2009). She graduated from the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Poland and has been a member of the European Film Academy since 2017. In a Q&A after the premiere at Sundance, Gorbach said she drew a lot of inspiration from her own life. She furthermore says that the film „is an artistic piece that reflects what people in the Ukraine are going through, especially the children and the babies who are living there“.
The French film critic Elena Lazic writes in „Cineuropea“ that Klondike is both a „matter-of-fact and angry matter-of-fact and angry film about a war seen from the inside, as it muscles its way into a region and its people in bewildering, violent increments, and the equally fierce and shocking forces of life and resistance.“ The film provides a rich inside into the lives of everyday people that, like frightening number of people right this moment, are being effected by a horrible war. For those of us who are following the constant news coverage from a distant the film is, moreover, a valuable opportunity to, as Gorbach puts it, take a peak backstage of the news.