Original title: The Other Chelsea. A Story from Donetsk.
Copyright: Kloos & Co. Medien GmbH
Format: feature documentary
Length: 88 min. / 54 min.
Original language: Russian and English
English subtitles: yes
Directed by Jakob Preuss
Screenplay by Jakob Preuss
Produced by Stefan Kloos
Photographed by Eugen Schlegel, Pavel Kazantsev, Roman Yelensky, MaximKuphal-Potapenko, Philipp Gromov, Felix Korfmann
Editing: Markus CM Schmidt. Lena Rem, Philipp Gromov
Animation: Stephan Flint Muller
Sound: Oleg Goloveshkin
Music: Dominik Sprungala
Sound design and mixing: Raimund von Scheibner
From the author’s synopsis:
“Donetsk, a city with a million inhabitants deep in Eastern Ukraine is the centre of the Donbas coal basin. Here most people work for low wages in rundown mines, while a few make a lot of money. No matter which side of the social divide you are on, coming from Donetsk you will almost certainly be an opponent of the Orange Revolution and a fan of the local team Shakhtar Donetsk. Billionaire Akhmetov invests heavily in the club, which is becoming a major European force during the football season followed by the film. Yet this sporting success funded by an oligarch’s fortune only seems to highlight the wider social and political stagnation of the region. Off the pitch the outlook appears bleak.”
Jakob Preuss sadly misses the point and proves inapt to examine in an objective levelheaded manner a complex socio-political fabric of post-Soviet Ukraine in Donbas. He follows a slew of Western observers influenced by Russian culture and its narratives, partly because of their own biases and partly because they are not intellectually equipped to read between the lines (learn Ukrainian!). Mr. Preuss readily, but not without wistful resignation (Umom Rossiiu ne poniat! Russia in unfathomable to the mind!), reproduces old, yet-to-be-discredited, imperial canards of a Ukraine divided: east vs west, Ukrainian vs Russian language, Orange vs Blue. Simplistic and easily digestible, these dichotomies have time and again proven so compelling to the observer who speaks no other tongue but Russian and therefore is completely, and in this case willfully, blind to things that are outside a Russian perspective. With that kind of myopia one is bound to see and portray today’s Donbas in one single color blue, that of the governing Party of Regions. One is also hard pressed to explain how come this allegedly pro-Russian Donbas gave birth to the great Ukrainian nationalists like Vasyl Stus, Ivan and Nadia Svitlychny, Ivan Dziuba and many others. “The Other Chelsea” is the latest evidence of how persistent Russian and Soviet ideological clichés of Ukraine prove to be among the kind of German public this documentary seems to be speaking for. Yuri Shevchuk.