Parents' Guide to

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Brutal but inspiring docu about 2013-'14 Ukrainian uprising.

Movie NR 2015 102 minutes
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A film crew opts to document a simple protest; the protest morphs into an all-out war against oppression, which results in a gripping account of bravery, brutality, and chaos. It's doubtful that Evgeny Afineevsky could have foreseen the struggle that Winter on Fire ultimately depicts. What he has scrupulously filmed, edited, and scored is a stunning, intimate record of events previously seen by international audiences only in film clips and relayed after the fact in news stories. Here it happens in real time, and nothing is censored. Some of the most poignant scenes show the desperate people begging their fearsome, well-equipped adversaries to remember their own Ukrainian roots ... to no avail.

Certainly, Winter on Fire represents only one side of this war -- no law-enforcement officer shown could ever be accused of having even the slightest conscience -- but Afineevsky doesn't pretend to balance his message. This is a Ukrainian revolution entirely from the point of view of the citizens. Sadly, though the film ends with a sense of accomplishment, optimism, and faith in the future, events since the spring of 2014 have proven that the Ukrainian people aren't yet "home free." Recommended for mature teens who are hungry for authentic documentation of current events.

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