Atlantis @ Festival du Nouveau Cinema

In Eastern Ukraine in 2025 the war has ended not long ago. Those who are still alive continue to suffer. Sergiy (Andrii Rymaruk) is still suffering. PTSD has caused him problems. His behaviour is not normal. Sergiy is not adjusting to civilian life. He has a job in a foundry which is mind numbing and just one friend, or so it seems.

By chance he seems to find his center when he begins to volunteer with a group called Black Tulip who are exhuming bodies of those who died in the war in order to give them a proper burial. Doing this seems to allow him to start recovering from the horrors he underwent during the war. Plus, he meets a woman named Katya (Liudmyla Bileka), who is intent on establishing peace in his life.

The film screened previously at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Orizzonti Prize for Best Film in the Horizons Section and then the Toronto International Film Festival. It is sure to leave a mark on whomever watches. Though the tone and look of director/screenwriter Valentyn Vasyanovych’s (Black Level, Kredens) film is quite dark there is a light which is always trying to break through. The idea that there is always hope even in the darkest of times.

An intimate character study and a poignant look at the cost of war. A cost which is inflicted on both humans and the environment. A character study in that Sergiy is a man in turmoil. A man who is going to have to accept who he is and what he has done in order to move forward in life in any kind of healthy way.

This is a rather different kind of apocalyptic film as it hasn’t happened yet; Ukraine is a country on the verge of total collapse. War has done damage. Here in the Ukraine the devastating war with Russia has ripped even the earth apart. The mines of the country have been split open and now spew toxins into the soil. Even after it has stopped, war continues to do damage. Message being that not only humans have to be healed, but also the environment.

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