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Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 104 minutes.

OK for children.

This is one of the more astonishing, action-packed, eye-opening films I have ever seen. In the winter of 2013-14, the Ukrainian people mounted a citizens revolution against a Russian-backed President and Parliament that boggles the mind to watch. I had no idea this was happening. Due to our horrible main street media, there were no stories or scenes of what was going on in the Ukraine that informed the American people. I knew vaguely that Ukraine was going through some sort of turmoil, but had no clue that what is shown in this film was happening daily throughout that winter.

Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people crowded the streets of Kiev, mainly in what they all called Maidan, but which stands for Maidan Nezalezhnosti (literally “Independence Square”).

Director Evgeny Afineevsky has remarkable footage of almost every moment of the revolution that started as a peaceful assembly to urge the government to support European integration which Prime Minister, but Russian stooge, Victor Yanukovych, promised. When Yanukovych reneged and signed a deal with Russia instead, the assembly turned into a peaceful protest which morphed into a confrontation with violent government troops, called the Berkut, which rivals the Nazi SS troops in its cold-blooded cruelty, and thugs that lasted for the entire winter, a full 93 days. This consisted of 93 days of hundreds of thousands, if not a million, people coming from all over the country to fight for freedom and stay in Maidan.

The films are shocking in the violence they show and in the courage of the people. All the while I wondered if people in America would stand up like this to fight for their freedoms.

The demonstrations go on and on and on, despite overwhelming armed forces against the people. They persevered. They kept coming, despite facing real bullets. People died. Yet still they came and stayed. For 93 days in the dead of winter.

This is an exhausting film to sit through, but it warms the cockles of your heart to hear the people on the streets tell their stories as the battle continues. There are young people, old people, children. They all stand united. And they tell the story from their points of view as participants.

What astounded me was how Afineevsky got all the shots. He started shooting with only 2 video cameras and 2 DSLRs, but as they continued with the project they established relationships with lots of the people involved and got film they took from their phones, GoPro cameras, and from TV crews. The result is a view of the revolution from the ground floor as it is happening. It is an astonishing production. The viewer becomes a part of the revolution.

This is a movie everyone should see. It’s one that raises stark questions as to why the Obama administration has refused to support the Ukrainians when they asked for weapons to defend themselves against the subsequent Russian invasion that took Crimea and is continuing by Russia sending dissidents into Ukraine to try to violently take over the Ukrainian democracy, which is pro-west.

Don’t miss this film. It’s a lot more exciting than any action picture you will ever see.