Russians bombarded Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin and other cities in the region following their invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. By the time they retreated a month later, the damage was huge: buildings had been destroyed and there were corpses lying in the streets. Filmmakers Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz went in immediately, in time to film local people emerging from their shelters, but never showing the actual atrocities. That wasn’t necessary, as the trauma of war is clear to see on everyone’s faces, including those of the volunteers who rushed in from far and wide to help.
Over the course of several weeks, the filmmakers follow various residents as they pick themselves up from the smoldering ruins. The dead are identified, debris is cleared, and prosecutors start talking about a war tribunal. At first, all is despair—accompanied by sheer bafflement that they have been attacked by a country with so many ties to families and friends. But as the first blossoms of spring start appearing, these Ukrainians also reveal their resilience.
In time, spring and a sliver of hope arrive, and the blossoming nature becomes the stage of Bucha’s inhabitants’ growing will to survive. Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz’s work deals with hope and resilience in the face of traumatic experiences. Even though war has destroyed their hometown, the community’s desire to return is strong. The meaning of collaboration in order to survive in a crisis feels more vital than ever.
Vilma-Lotta Mustonen (translated by Inari Ylinen)