Films exploring different aspects of the Russian invasion and the Ukrainian heroism in the program of the 20th MDAG

One of the leading themes of this year’s edition of the Berlinale festival is the situation in Ukraine. During the 20th Millennium Docs Against Gravity, the Polish audience will get to see for the first time four feature and short films that are having their world premieres in the coming days in Berlin. These will be previously announced by MDAG "In Ukraine" by Tomasz Wolski and Piotr Pawlus,  "We Will Not Fade Away" by Alisa Kovalenko as well as a new film by master Vitaly Mansky - "Eastern Front", which he co-directed with Yevhen Titarenko and a short film “waking up in silence” (dir. Mila Zhluktenko, Daniel Asadi Faezi).

The starting point for the creation of the "Eastern Front" was February 24, 2022, when co-director Yevhen Titarenko went to the frontline. He began to record everything - his emotions, the waves of people fleeing death, and the friends who marched with him. He served in the army’s medical battalion, helping the wounded escape from the line of fire and attempting to deliver them to the military hospital. Half a year of his life was filled with despair and dramatic decisions, but also hope for victory and love. Master Vitaly Mansky helped Yevhen portray the realities of life on the frontline, adding to the film his remarkable skill of observation. It is a moving portrait of young Ukrainian men and women who set off to save their homeland.

The scale of devastation caused by the war as well as the attempt to return to normalcy in the liberated areas are the subject of focus for Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski in the film "In Ukraine". They invite the audience to join them on a journey through various aspects of the new reality. They don’t shy away from the banality and absurdity of life in the shadow of the invasion. The new normal in Ukraine means children playing soldiers while their parents bicker in lines for food rations. It is covering holes and empty door frames with plywood, or the boredom of everyday life in barracks. Life goes on as if the omnipresent rubble were just a decoration.

Alisa Kovalenko's film "We Will Not Fade Away" takes on a whole new dimension in the face of the Russian invasion of 2022. We're back in 2019, in the mining region of Donbass. Threat of a new Russian invasion hangs in the air, the sounds of gunfire and explosions can be heard in the distance. This is the context in which our five teenage protagonists enter adulthood and begin to think about their future. Alisa Kovalenko is not interested in making a film about the horrors of war. Instead, thanks to its main characters, it’s a coming-of-age story full of hope and beauty. Unexpectedly, an opportunity arises to set off on a long journey far from home. They receive an invitation from a famous traveler who decides to organize a trip to Nepal for them. They don’t know yet  what awaits their homeland when they return.

The MDAG short film competition will also include films devoted to the dramatic situation beyond Poland’s eastern border. One of them is “waking up in silence” directed by Mila Zhluktenko, and Daniel Asadi Faezi, which will have a world premiere during the Berlinale. This time, we visit the former German military barracks, which currently serve as a refugee camp for those fleeing Ukraine. The main focus of this story is all the kids coming to a new country. They try to find themselves in it, and their gaze reflects contemporary German society as well as its history.

The anniversary 20th edition of MDAG will take place on May 12-21, 2023 in cinemas across eight Polish cities - Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Lublin as well as online - from May 23 to June 4 on the The principal patron of the festival is Bank Millennium (