In order to examine national identity, it’s often best to use the personal as a lens into the political. Vitaly Mansky’s new documentary “Close Relations” is a personal investigation of his family’s Ukrainian roots, or lack thereof, and in the process explores the definition of national identity. Is it a passport or blood lines? What happens when an army rolls up into your city and you suddenly live in another country? Watch an exclusive trailer for the film below.
Mansky’s family are all former Soviet citizens and Russian speakers by tradition and don’t consider themselves of any particular ethnicity or origin. However, the fault lines of the post-Soviet era create cracks in the family that have reached a breaking point with Putin’s military annexation of Eastern Ukraine. In the film, Mansky talks to relatives in Western Ukraine (Lviv), who consider themselves Ukrainian and oriented towards the west as well as those in Russian occupied Simferopol and Donetsk who look at Moscow for support and guidance. “Close Relations” explores the amusing, intriguing differences of opinion about the fate of Ukraine as it deals with warfare against its neighbor. The topic became more personal for Mansky when the Russian ministry of culture publicly withdrew its financial support for the film, leading to his move to Latvia, where he now lives and works.
Vitaly Mansky is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Russian documentary filmmakers. He has directed more than thirty films, which premiered at more than 500 international film festivals. His last film “Under The Sun” was a behind-the-scenes expose of the North Korean propaganda machine, employing footage Mansky and his team smuggled out of the country.
“Close Relations” will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival’s documentary section. The festival runs from September 8 through 18.