Bad Roads @ Festival du Nouveau Cinema

Another Ukranian film. Another film which shows the evils of war/combat. This is obviously a subject which is on the minds of Ukranian filmmakers.

Here we have four different stories which are subtly linked in one way or another. All are set in the war ravaged and occupied area of Donbass. All stories gives the viewer a window into what it is like to live in an area in the shadow of conflict.

As we live far removed from this area it is easy not to think of what the people there are going through. Just becomes a bitesize new clip we have seen or heard. Russia has annexed this area of the Crimea. People living there are now in survival mode.

To illustrate this survival mode we get different views of how it is being done. A man without a passport who claims to be a school teacher gets roughed up at a checkpoint, two teenagers wait in the town square for their boyfriends, a female journalist is captured by a militant and abused horribly, and, in what is the only story with some lightness, a young woman runs over a chicken and tries to compensate the owners.

This was the North American premiere for Natalya Vorozhbit’s film, Bad Roads. She has adapted her own play to make her first feature film. Vorozhbit is part of the Ukranian New Drama Movement. You can tell she is a veteran of the theatre as her camera attempts to be as unobtrusive as possible as it is set up in a place and just “watches” what goes on.

It takes a lot out of you this film. A tough watch. Spent several moments thinking about how hard it must have been on the actors as well as many of them either have to commit or endure horrible things. A problem I had with the film is that this brutality sometimes took away from all the stories were trying to get across. The fact that war or conflict does not just end. The price it exacts continues in the form of destruction of infrastructure, an occupied people, lack of food and supplies, and poverty. Sometimes these important messages are lost in the horror.

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