Programme Review

Fighting the System: On the Path to Full Recovery

11 March 2021

Becoming ill, developing an immunity and finally recovering? Diseases have long gained a metaphorical dimension, and some of them have lost clear physical signs, but they have not become less painful because of that. What does it mean to be healthy under these circumstances? And is full recovery possible then? The main programme of the 18th Docudays UA, Full Recovery?, offers to find the ways to fight the malfunctions in the system, which have become so apparent during the pandemic. Viktoria Leshchenko, the festival’s programme director, speaks about the concept of the programme.


Healing is possible, but first we need to treat the sick system. This ambitious goal is set by the protagonists of the films from the Full Recovery? programme. Body, health and illnesses have long escaped the personal space and exist in the political dimension. Big corporations and states encroach on our body and health to keep society under thorough control. Meanwhile, we are trying to redefine these fundamentals to resist the discourse of the authorities. This incessant confrontation requires a lot of energy, empathy, knowledge and humanity. The films in this programme are stories about this.


Collectiveby Alexander Nanau recounts a horrible tragedy: the fire at the Collective night club. The event provokes an investigation which reveals an old illness in the body of the Romanian health care system. The film raises thorny and urgent questions which will resonate with Ukrainian audiences.


76 Days by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous (a local reporter from Wuhan who wants to protect his identity) shows a well-organized “survival pipeline” at a Chinese hospital. Coronavirus patients here are obediently waiting: some for recovery, some for death. Both the doctors and the patients in the film are depersonalized, although sometimes a candid cry of pain and despair breaks through the alienation.


A Still from Citizen Bio

The Full Recovery? programme also includes an engaging investigation from the depths of the biohacking underground: Citizen Bio by Trish Dolman. This is where radical, even for state-of-the-art health care, experiments with the body and health take place (such as treatment for HIV). Intense struggle unfolds between idealistic maximalists who seek to share their discoveries for free and corporations which try to take control over the risky experiments and integrate them in their own technologies of power.


Beautiful Something Left Behind by Katrine Philp addresses America. Here, society builds powerful institutions for its needs on its own. For instance, in New Jersey, the Good Grief organization creates unique centres for psychological support. They work with children who have recently lost their parents. Talking about death, living through morning are important skills which, unfortunately, aren’t taught at school or even in the family. But they are essential for restoring mental health in the wake of a painful loss.


The films from the Full Recovery? programme will be screened at the DOCUSPACE online cinema.


Header photo: A still from 76 Days.


The 18 Docudays UA is supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and the State Film Agency of Ukraine.

25 – 
April 2022