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Film / Winter on Fire

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Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom is a 2014 film directed by Evgeny Afineevsky.

It is a documentary about the "Euromaidan" protests of November 2013-February 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, widely seen as pro-Russian, withdraws at the last moment from an agreement to join the European Union. Instead, he pursues an agreement with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin.

Outrage over this amongst pro-EU and anti-Russian Ukrainians leads to protests in Kyiv's central square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti ("Independence Square"). The anti-government rallies are initially relatively small scale, but an attack on November 30 by government security forces backfires and increases support for the protesters. As the protesters continue to occupy the square through the new year and into February 2014, government police and paramilitary forces become more aggressive, eventually firing live bullets at the protesters. Meanwhile, the protests widen in scope, as opposition builds to Yanukovych, government corruption, and Russian influence in Ukraine.



  • Disturbed Doves: The rattle of automatic weapons fire as the militia starts shooting at the protesters in the square is accompanied by a shot of pigeons flying away from their resting place on power liens.
  • Documentary: One that makes no pretense of neutrality but sides wholeheartedly with the anti-Yanukovych protest movement.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The central square in Kyiv where the protests take place is called Maidan Nezalezhnosti, "Independence Square". However, everyone in the city calls it simply "Maidan", or "Square".
  • Fan Disservice: A protester seized by the security forces is stripped totally naked before he's chucked into a paddy wagon. Another protester who witnessed the scene observes that the security people tried to humiliate the protester but really humiliated themselves.
  • Flyaway Shot: The last shot of the movie is a camera shot that swoops up and away from the square as the protesters stand vigil at night.
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  • How We Got Here: Starts on Day 92 of the protests/revolution, as a man in the square breathlessly tells the camera how he was just pulling a corpse out of the street, while gunfire can be heard in the distance. Then the film jumps back to the previous fall and the abandoned EU agreement.
  • Jitter Cam: Seen many times as government goons attack protesters and whoever's holding the camera is forced to flee.
  • Narrator: Used only briefly in the opening scenes, describing Yanukovych's withdrawal from the EU agreement. The rest of the story is told on camera by people who were there.
  • Stock Footage: News reports of Yanukovych abandoning the EU agreement, Yanukovych making an agreement with Putin, and the Ukrainian parliament passing repressive laws against the protesters.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: One sequence shows retired army officers, sympathetic to the movement, training the young people in the square on basic tactics to stand up against the police and militia attacking them.
  • Undercrank: The security cam footage of Yanukovych hurriedly leaving the city by helicopter. Apparently it was time-lapse footage, which is sped up in the movie, giving the movements onscreen a strange jerky quality.

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