Atlantis, a film about the ravages of the war between Russia and Ukraine made two years ago

Awarded at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, this feature film, which depicts a Ukraine ravaged by war, echoes current events.

As Russian troops gain ground and the human toll rises, the scope of the film Atlantis, a title that sounds like a myth, had never seemed so realistic. In 2019, when the Russian invasion was only a possibility, Valentyn Vasyanovych presented Atlantis, his dystopian feature film, depicting a devastated Eastern Ukraine after a year at the front. Not in 2022, but in 2025. The visionary Ukrainian director almost had the compass in his eye.

The post-apocalyptic drama that is Atlantis follows Sergiy, played by actor Andriy Rymaruk, a retired soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress. His retraining in the steelworks ended when the factory that employed him closed its doors. Having emerged victorious from the conflict, Russia leaves behind Ukrainian soil strewn with corpses. Sergiy then gets involved in the “Black Tulip” mission, dedicated to the exhumation and identification of the remains, alongside Katya, (Liudmyla Bileka), a former archaeologist.

Meeting Katya is the main character’s only hope of survival. Her only hope for self-acceptance and the catalyst for her life’s strugglementions director Valentyn Vasyanovych in an explanatory note. The filming ofAtlantis mainly took place in Mariupol between January and March 2019, a port city today in Russia’s sights because of its strategic nature.

An authentic and understandable film

However, the intention ofAtlantis is not to demonize Russia – rare are the references to the federal state in the feature film – but to warn about the long-term consequences of the war. As a striking example, Valentyn Vasyanovych evokes the case of the Donbass region. Atlantis is a very real version of the consequences of an all-out war between Ukraine and Russia. The biggest problem of the Donbass is not economic degradation, but an ecological disaster. Hundreds of mines that were once pumped out are now abandoned and flooded. The poisonous water from it falls into wells and rivers. In a few years, there will be no more drinking water in this region, and people will no longer be able to live there. Donbass will turn into a lifeless desert, like Chernobyl, but much larger in size.”

Atlantis is a very real version of the consequences of an all-out war between Ukraine and Russia.

Valentyn Vasyanovych, director, in an explanatory note on the Mubi site.

The few protagonists of the feature film are not professional actors, but soldiers or veterans of the armed forces. An “obvious” decision according to the director: “I was hoping they would share their unique experiences, which I didn’t have, which would make the film more authentic and understandable”.

Atlantis was awarded at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 for the Best Film in the Orizzonti section and nominated for the Golden Globes in 2021 in the category of best foreign film. Echoing current events, the film will be screened on Thursday March 10 at the Reflet Medicis cinema in Paris, as part of the La Rochelle Cinema Festival. The proceeds generated will be donated to the Red Cross, in support of the Ukrainian people.


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