VENICE WATCH: Ukraine revolution inspires Venice documentary

AP News
Posted: Sep 04, 2015 1:37 PM
VENICE WATCH: Ukraine revolution inspires Venice documentary

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press:



Director Evgeny Afineevsky didn't know he was about to witness a revolution when he went to Ukraine in late 2013.

The Russia-born filmmaker began filming protests against the pro-Moscow government of President Viktor Yanukovych by Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to the European Union. Over the course of three months, the Maidan movement — named for Kiev's main square — drew hundreds of thousands into the streets and met a violent response that that killed scores.

Afineevsky says his team grew, too, bringing in multiple camera operators "to capture more and more and more elements of this revolution. But before, nobody was expecting that it was going to be such a big thing."

The result is "Winter on Fire," screening out of competition at the Venice Film Festival. The film captures the excitement and drama of the movement that ultimately toppled Yanukovych — though not its aftermath, which includes ongoing fighting between pro-Kiev and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The film is one of two in Venice produced by Netflix, along with African war drama "Beasts of No Nation," starring Idris Elba — a signal the streaming service wants to become a major movie-industry player.

Despite the deaths that unfolded around him in Ukraine, Afineevsky said he wasn't scared — until later.

"When you were in Maidan, the fear does not exist," he said. "I think the unity, the people around you this adrenaline that was running through your veins and this amazing vibe that was there of the young generation — of the people from different social classes, people from different faiths, people of different nationalities. This unity made you not fear."

Unabashedly on the side of the protesters, the film packs a visceral punch. But the director said some footage was too violent to include in the final cut.

"We had dead bodies laying on the ground, young kids shot and we decided at last minute not to put it (in)," he said. "I think it's something that does not need to be shown."

—By Cristina Jaleru



The issue of Australia and dogs is still a sore spot for Johnny Depp.

In May, Depp and his wife Amber Heard were accused of illegally bringing their Yorkshire terriers Pistol and Boo to Australia — an incident that captured global attention after the nation's agriculture minister angrily ordered the pooches to get out of the country or face death.

On Friday, an Australian reporter asked Depp whether he had brought his canine companions to Venice, where the actor is promoting gangster thriller "Black Mass."

"I killed my dogs and ate them, under the direct orders of some sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia," Depp said.

—By Jill Lawless