Oscar-nominated Documentary “Winter on Fire” brings the Ukrainian Political Struggle to the Masses

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Shaynah Ferreira / WEBN-TV

By Shaynah Ferreira 2/26/2016

The Ukrainian revolution that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych is captured through the sights and sounds of people on the ground in Maidan, the center of the civil rights movement. Oscar-nominated director, Evgeny Afineevsky documents the Ukrainian political struggle for freedom in his film, “Winter on Fire”. The powerful images Afineevsky captured in the eastern European country evolved into a piece of world history that he says, “will live on forever”.

Afineevsky had multiple roles in the making of this Oscar-nominated documentary feature. He not only directed, but he was the Executive Producer and Cinematographer of the film.

The endeavor that the award-winning director took on was initially supposed to be a two-week shoot, but Afineevsky quickly realized he was capturing a moment in history – the revolution of the Ukrainian people. The documentary gives viewers the opportunity to see how peaceful student protests against the Ukrainian government turned deadly; as millions of citizens, young and old fight to become part of the European Union.

“I wanted to tell their stories. Amazing, fascinating stories of human beings who came out and united to achieve their goal. What blew my mind when I was filming this was the unity. You had unity of all ages, young and old. You had unity of social groups. That never happens in any revolution, and I wanted to show that.”
He says he did not produce this documentary with the intentions of being honored, rather his honor comes in spreading the message he portrays in “Winter on Fire.”

The Russian-Israeli director found himself in a controversial position by producing Winter on Fire because of his Russian roots. However, his creative work and moral duties continue in his documentary. Afineevsky says, “I know I have surrounded myself with controversy but I do not intend to associate myself with the politics, rather the humanity and the people.”¬†Although Afineevsky was met with controversy due to the production of his documentary, he was met with the opportunity to bring his film to the masses.

The popular online streaming service, Netflix premiered “Winter on Fire” for availability to over 190 countries. Afineesvsky says the documentary was commended by Ukrainians, Russians and people all over the world.
“What amazed me about the reaction is the documentary allowed for young people and people of a younger generation to see the power of the people and then inspired young people to be involved in politics,” He says, if nothing else, he wants this documentary to show people that the government is not the power. They represent the people and “the people are the power.”

Afineesvky says after Oscars season, his passion for storytelling will continue as he plans to document the Syrian refugee crisis as his next cinematic endeavor.