The Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University will open its new season with the feature documentary The Cacophony of Donbas, 2018. Yuri Shevchuk will introduce the program and lead the post-screening discussion.
This revealing and skillfully executed documentary explores the Soviet myth of the Donbas, the part of Ukraine that includes the administrative provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk. The film has two clashing narrative planes. One shows life in this region through the lens of Soviet propaganda that portrayed Donbas as a workers’ paradise. The other is about the objective reality of miners’ lives and their dangerous, backbreaking work.
The myth of Donbas is on a par with other components of the Russian mythic consciousness such as the so-called Great Patriotic War or Russian messianism and victimhood. Together they feed the massive support that the current Russian aggression against Ukraine enjoys among the populace of Russia.
Director Ihor Minayev uses unique archival footage, individual videos found on the Internet, historical artifacts, and interviews with people representing various walks of life in Donbas. Says Ihor Minayev, “Working on the Cacophony of Donbas, we very much wanted to impart to the global community the idea that Soviet and current Russian propaganda and fake news are things of the same order. Both purport to distort and fabricate reality. And that is very dangerous. That’s why what is now going on in Ukraine concerns the whole world.”
The film is in Ukrainian and Russian with English subtitles.