After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine experienced a financial crisis. This led to a decline in Ukrainian art. Therefore, cinema started to commercialize. Business structures often became customers and sponsors of the films. This circumstance inevitably affected the content of the films. Crime dramas, adventure and erotic films were gaining popularity. Despite the difficult times, Ukrainian cinema was gradually reviving. In the 1990s, directors already showed interest in the history and culture of Ukraine. And that's not surprising. The country that had recently become independent needed a return to its roots and individuality.
Zvenigora doesn't seem to be a monolithic work, it consists of many stories and images. They are connected with an old man's character. Dovzhenko wanted to depict him as a naive man who should not be treated seriously. However, Dovzhenko only wanted things to be so. He actually created a film with a folklore atmosphere. He even used mystical elements in his work. Dovzhenko showed different sides of Ukranian history and culture: Ivan Kupala's night, evil spirits in the house, drama between two brothers (one of them joined the Red Army and second joined Petliura's one).
Doroga na Sech ("Дорога на сечь", 1994) is one of the brightest examples of independent Ukrainian cinema. The plot seems to be simple, but in fact it is impregnated with freedom, which is in the Ukrainians' blood and has long become part of their culture. At the beginning of the film the father of the main character Pavlo Pokhilenko refused to work on a pan's field. This bold act forced him to leave his family and home and flee pan's wrath. In a few years Pavlo himself freed his bride from the hands of villains, Cossack horunzhy Denis Kryga and Polish Count Potocki, who wanted to possess the girl. Social injustice pushed the character to go to the Zaporozhian Sech and fight for the freedom of his nation and for the Orthodox faith. The described events preceded the liberation movement of Bohdan Khmelnytsky.
A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa
In the 2000s, directors made more and more historical films and series. For example, in 2002, the premiere of A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa ("Молитва о гетмане Мазепе") took place at the Berlin Film Festival. The film tells about the life of the Ukrainian hetman Mazepa who is believed to have betrayed the Russian emperor Peter 1 during the war with Sweden. But, according to experts and the director Yuri Ilyenko himself, here you shouldn't wait for historical reliability. The image of Mazepa is creatively rethought by the director. Here hetman doesn't appear as a traitor, but as a man who decided to remain neutral and to bow neither to the side of the Swedish king Charles, nor to the side of Peter. Despite the fact that the film has repeatedly been criticized for nationalist sentiments and anti-Russian orientation, it is interesting for an alternative point of view on historical events regarding both Ukrainians and Russians.
After the famous events of 2014, the attention of Ukrainian directors was again turned to the topic of independence and sovereignty of the country. In 2019, Kruty 1918 ("Круты. 1918"), dedicated to the battle near the village of Kruty, was released. In Ukrainian historiography, this battle is of particular importance. It is an example of the heroic struggle of Ukrainian youth for the independence of their homeland. 400 desperate guys enter the battle with the four thousandth Soviet army. The main characters of the film, Andrei and Alexei Savitsky, are among them. They are young and crave a life full of freedom and, of course, love. But the threat to their homeland ruins their plans. The hearts of Andrei and Alyosha are hurting for their native country. The two brothers take a portrait of a girl Sophia, whom both are in love with, and leave to fearlessly fulfill their patriotic duty. Several Ukrainian films of recent years are devoted to the topic of the war in Donbass, which has become almost the main pain of Ukrainians. One of the most notable films on this topic is Donbass ("Донбасс", 2018), awarded of the Cannes Film Festival. The film consistently presents 13 stories.
The film is based on amateur videos of people who have witnessed events in Eastern Ukraine. According to the director, this was the only way to convey the true atmosphere of what had been happening and to draw the attention of the West to the problems of Ukraine.
- Made-up extras giving fake interviews.
- A Ukrainian woman lynching over the mayor during a deputy session.
- The hoax of medical personnel of the city maternity hospital.
- The stealing chief physician transported through the Ukrainian checkpoint.
- Bribes taken from passengers of the intercity bus. Search and mockery are carried out.
- A German journalist appearing among Donetsk militias and military.
- The conversation between the girl and her refugee mother during the tour of the bomb shelter compartments.
- Envoys of a peacekeeping action with the relics of the epic hero Churila Plenkovich.
- Looting among the militias being suppressed. They are being punished in front of the formation.
- The new government's marauding and taking the jeep from the businessman.
- People communicating with a captive volunteer, which leads to reprisal of the crowd.
- A marriage ceremony celebrated according to the laws of Novorossiya. Military clashes at night.
- Extras again. The scenario changes dramatically and the tragedy happens in real life.