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Ukraine has selected Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass, a drama centered on an ongoing military conflict in East Ukraine, for the best foreign-language film Oscar race.
The film depicts a conflict that has been raging since 2014 between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in a way that evokes an anarchic and absurdist horror show.
“Tackling a bloody struggle that these days barely registers in the media beyond the region itself, despite the fact that the shady Ukrainian connections to President Donald Trump and his cronies keep bobbing up in the news, the film feels timely and borne of deep-held despair at the senseless strife tearing the country apart,” wrote THR in its review.
Named after one of the regions controlled by the separatists, Donbass premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, winning Loznitsa the section’s directing prize.
The film went on to be screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Transatlantyk Festival in Lodz, Poland and at Odessa Film Festival in Ukraine.
Donbass is Loznitsa’s fourth feature. All of this previous features, My Joy, In a Fog and A Gentle Creature, screened in the official selection at Cannes.
Co-produced by Ukraine, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Romania, the film is scheduled to open theatrically in Ukraine in September.
Donbass is Ukraine’s 11st foreign-language Oscar submission since 1997. No Ukrainian film has made the shortlist for the Academy Awards.
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