“Broken Ties”

A hat-tip to Hettie D. because that blog is where I was introduced to this documentary. Hettie highly recommended “watching this movie to all my friends who ask me “how Russian people feel about what’s going on”. There are English subtitles.”

This is a feature length video, however, so you should probably bookmark the video for when you have some time to be engaged with it. The documentary was directed by Russian journalist and independent filmmaker Andrey Loshak. The documentary was produced for Current Time. For the hyper-partisan amongst us, yes: Current Time is a project of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and I’m just fine with that. If you are not then you probably ought to watch the documentary, but I won’t argue.

I left this documentary with some observations that are difficult to write about, mainly because anyone reading what I have to say before watching the documentary will likely be misled regarding its content. This is, in essence, a love story that follows several families who span the Ukraine / Russia divide. It is about the fear, anger and bewilderment that comes when someone you intimately know and love becomes repugnantly alien in an existentially fraught situation.

And that fraught situation is the “politics by other means” of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Having been active in protesting the Vietnam war (among others), I found the documentary to be distressingly familiar. I leave doing a compare-and-contrast re: Vietnam and Ukraine to you, dear reader, but it’s worth pointing out that it is not at all clear how much the U.S. anti-war movement influenced government policy. Certainly it was a decisive influence on a good many political careers, but the war dragged on. I suspect whatever constraints the movement placed on actual policy was secondary to the disintegration of the U.S. military in Vietnam: the fragging, drug use, refusal of orders, not to mention the occasional racial conflict. There are stories suggesting something similar is happening to the Russian military in Ukraine, but the context is different… so who knows what will happen?

Insurrection

This is an outstanding and thought-provoking piece of work by the New York Times. It deserves to be circulated. Spread it around.

After watching this, I was left uncertain about my reaction to it and what I might want to say about it. So I’ll limit myself to a tangential observation. I’m not a pacifist so I hope I’m not sounding sanctimonious about this, but unless you have some ideological commitment to violent revolution, this is headed in the wrong direction. Whatever else this video is, it is a warning about how violence in politics feeds on itself.

The Blood is at the Doorstep

This documentary by Eric Ljung may be a look in the rear view mirror but if you have an hour and a half, you’ll find it worth your while. There’s a lot to unpack and, as a former political activist, I’m left with some questions that the filmmakers did not choose to explore though they touched upon a few of them. This is not a criticism but rather a recognition that the politics of community organizing can be complicated and historical. You’re not going to get it all in 90 minutes.

 

The Blood is at the Doorstep is a story about one family’s quest for answers, justice, and reform after Dontre Hamilton is shot 14 times and killed by a Milwaukee Police Officer responding to a non-emergency wellness check.

“Filmed over the course of three years in the direct aftermath of Dontre’s death, this intimate verite documentary follows his family as they channel their grief into community organizing in an attempt to reset the narrative. Offering a painfully realistic glimpse inside a movement born out of tragedy in what the Hollywood Reporter calls ‘a clear-eyed film that finds hope within terrible circumstances, and strength
within heartbreak.'”