The Russians bombarded Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin and other cities in the region following their invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. By the time they retreated a month later, the damage was massive: houses destroyed, civilians executed, and lives ruined. Filmmakers Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz went in immediately, in time to film the 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 many weeks, the filmmakers follow various residents as they pick themselves up from the smouldering ruins. The dead are identified, the debris is cleared, and the prosecutors start talking about a war tribunal. At first, all is panic, despair and sadness — 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. The human spirit overcomes war and death.
Content warning: depiction of war
Director: Mila Teshaieva, Marcus Lenz
Producer: Marcus Lenz
Cinematographer: Marcus Lenz, Mila Teshaieva
Sound: Vitalyi Garkavyi, Andriy Niedzelsky
Wildfilms / Marcus Lenz in cooperation with WDR
Audience Award for Mid-Length Documentary at Hot Docs (2023)
Mila Teshaieva is a Ukrainian artist, photographer, and filmmaker. Her work is focused on the topics of national memories and collective identities on the territories of the former Eastern bloc. A retrospective of her work, Imagined Communities, was shown at the MIT Museum in Boston in 2018. From the very first days of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mila has been in Kyiv and the Kyiv region, photographing, filming, and writing on what she describes as “a defining moment of European history”.
Selected FilmographyWhen Spring Came to Bucha (2022), Rival (2020)
Marcus Lenz is a German director, screenwriter and cinematographer based in Berlin. He graduated from the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). His feature film Rival (2020) premiered at Busan IFF and won the Best Director award at Tokyo IFF, Best Global Film at Pristina IFF, among many other awards, and has also been shown worldwide at more than 50 festivals. In 2016 he founded the Wild films production company, and directed multiple mid-length documentaries for the German television channels WDR and Arte.
Selected FilmographyWhen Spring Came to Bucha (2022), Rival (2020), Close (2004)