112' 2016 Łotwa, Niemcy, Estonia, Ukraina director: Vitaly Mansky cinematography: Alexandra Ivanova editing: Peteris Kimelis, Gunta Ikere production: Vertov, Ego Media
Vitaly Mansky, currently Russia’s best-known documentary filmmaker, was born in Ukraine. The subjects of his latest film about the difficult relationship between Ukraine and Russia are, as the title suggests, close relations: between people from Lviv, who are clearly in favor of Ukraine’s ties to Europe, and those from Donetsk and Simferopol, who are closer to Moscow. A savvy observer, Mansky skillfully combines memories of the Soviet Union with developments of recent years. Following events from Kyiv's Maidan, then the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbas, Mansky asks difficult questions. Division in Ukrainian society is a fact of life, but will it ever be possible to overcome the deepening divide between the country's east and west? As a Ukrainian with a Russian passport, Mansky is the perfect observer, both a local and an outsider at the same time. Regardless of all the political references, “Close Relations” is an example of wonderful documentary cinema, with distinctive characters, countless interesting stories and superb cinematography.