Veteran filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s “Maidan,” a Cannes and 2014 Karlovy Vary entry, is an unusual front lines doc that takes a different aesthetic approach from “The Square,” which grabbed multiple video feeds and interviewed key participants at Egypt’s uprising in Tahir Square. “Maidan,” referring to the central square in Kiev where thousands of ordinary Ukraine citizens encamped to protest the government, takes getting used to. Deploying the camera as an impersonal, trustworthy and objective observer, fiction and doc filmmaker Loznitsa locks it down on a tripod for long static stretches in various locations–he chooses them as events unfold, sometimes in order to run to safe, higher ground–and edits the results.
At the beginning, we see people walking into the hub of operations for this extraordinary group effort. It’s dull at first, but you begin to figure out what the filmmaker is showing us. How do you feed, house and support a revolution? This movie helps to supply that answer as we see the logistics of this initially peaceful protest operation which escalates into a violent revolution with multiple casualties on both sides.
As the action becomes more intense–with flaming barricades, people running and tossing grenades and others felled by snipers and carted off for medical attention– the sophistication of the filmmaking involves the brilliant use of sound. The film’s narration is the off-camera public address system that communicates with thousands of protesters and resistance fighters and barks battle orders at people –and doctors–of where to go. You’ve never seen a movie like this. After months of tracking events, we see the revolutionaries win. For the moment.