Eastern Front

Shidniy Front

LATVIA, UKRAINE, CZECH, USA / 2023 / Ukrainian, Russian / Color / DCP / 98 min

- Directors: Vitaly Mansky, Yevhen Titarenko
Script: Vitaly Mansky
Photography: Ivan Fomichenko, Yevhen Titarenko
Editing: Andrey Paperny
Sound: Václav Flegl
Producers: Natalia Manskaia, Nataliia Khazan
Production Companies: Vertov, Braha Production Company, Hypermarket Film
World Sales: Deckert Distribution

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, film co-director Yevhen Titarenko and his friends volunteer in a medical battalion at the eastern front. The film depicts the first-hand experience of the young soldiers across six months, covering in searing detail burnt out buildings and vehicles, the agonizing screams of wounded soldiers, the zip of bullets, and artillery fire. Concurrently presented are periods off-duty where the co-director visits family and friends and we hear about experiences on the eastern front since 2014 and recollections of those swayed by Russian propaganda. After a deceptively peaceful time in the countryside, the young people set out again for the battlefield. (AK)

[Director’s Statement] Our film shows the war through the eyes of ordinary men. They have gone to defend their homes, their families—their homeland. Captured on video recorders and mobile phones, every day of this war is full of horror, despair, death, fear, and quiet heroism. The “Eastern Front” has divided the lives of the young men and women who now fight for a free Ukraine—both before and after the start of hostilities. But not everyone who is fighting for their future in a free Ukraine will live to see that future.

- Vitaly Mansky (left)

Born 1963, Ukraine (then the USSR). Graduated from VGIK (All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography) in 1989. Since 2007, founder and president of the International Festival of Creative Documentary Films Artdocfest (activity halted in 2022 due to Russia’s censorship and war against Ukraine). Founded the International Documentary Film Festival Artdocfest/Riga in 2020. Private Chronicles. Monologue (1999), Wild, Wild Beach (2006, co-director), and Motherland or Death (2011) screened at YIDFF (2001, 2007, and 2013).

Yevhen Titarenko (right)

Born 1988, Ukraine, graduated from the Mykolaychuk Institute of Visual Arts in 2009. After occupation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, he left Crimea, going to the front as a documentary filmmaker. Hospitallers Medical Battalion volunteer since 2022.