The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia and Ukraine during the start of the war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the centre of an international air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014.
Following Donbass, Atlantis, and Bad Roads (all submissions for Ukraine the past couple of years), the latest film from the Donetsk region is Klondike. It takes place in July 2014, in the Hrabove area during the time that the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by Pro-Russian separatist forces. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed. But this film isn’t solely focused on the plane crash, or even the war between Ukrainians and Pro-Russian separatists in Donbass. Its main focus is on Irka and her husband Tolik as they fight to live their lives as normally as possible.
The films starts with Irka, who is pregnant, and Tolik in their home, in complete darkness, talking about their plans for the future. A few seconds later an explosion is heard and part of their house is destroyed. A wall is gone. And the impact of the war happening in their small village is very apparent. A few days later the plane crashes.
But despite all of that Irka is determined to remain in her home.
Irka picks tomatoes from her damaged land, and cooks and prepares meals. Tolik tries to fix the electricity on the roof, and in the distance the smoke from the plane crash can be seen. Irka and Tolik talk about how they’re going to renovate the house when the war is over: they’re going to build a huge window in the wall, they’re going to re-do the roof, they’re going to have heating in the floors, they’re going to have a huge garden. And the fact that that reality won’t happen is the most heartbreaking part of it all.
Director Maryna Er Gorbach's camerawork is just astounding. The frames in the film where the house is shown and the entire landscape can be seen in the distance is just so visually striking. The cinematography of their stunning surroundings is just beautiful to watch, despite the chaos happening around them. It’s an amazingly crafted movie, and so well done.
The Klondike is a region in Canada in the Yukon Territory. It’s most famous for the Gold Rush that happened between 1896 and 1899. More than a 100,000 people made the journey to the area in the hopes of becoming rich. Few did, most didn’t. Is Donbass like Klondike? A stunning part of the world, where there’s beauty in every corner, like gold? But instead of people heading to the area to become rich, they’re fleeing the area to save their lives. Only a few refuse to leave. May one day these strong, brave people find gold in their lifetimes, like the few people who became super wealthy in the Klondike.