London Premier: Volcano + ScreenTalk

Ukraine/Germany/Monaco 2018 Dir Roman Bondarchuk 104 min.

A military interpreter becomes stranded in a small southern Ukrainian steppe town in Roman Bondarchuk’s brilliant, surreal black comedy.

Set in the visually astonishing borderlands of Southern Ukraine, this multi award-winning dark comedy stars Serhiy Stepansky as city boy Lukas, an interpreter from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Having been abandoned by his co-workers, Lukas seeks shelter with Vova (Viktor Zhdanov), a colourful local. Lukas gradually sheds his preconceptions about rural life and finds a new, unexpected happiness in this wild corner of Ukraine.

From its stunning opening visual to its painterly images of the Ukrainian countryside, Volcano is a unique, Kafkaesque love letter to a region seldom explored in cinema. Roman Bondarchuk’s fiction debut is a triumph with hints of David Lynch’s surrealism and Emir Kusturica’s bawdiness – though the vision is very much Bondarchuk’s own.

“I discovered the unique universe of the south Ukrainian steppe through my wife’s uncle, Vova, who lived there and who was constantly coming up with crazy business ideas. Once, he suggested to dig up the bones from German soldiers from the Second World War in his garden and sell them to the relatives in Germany. This seemed so absurd to me that I decided to follow him with a camera to get a better understanding of his life and the area where he lived.

In this deserted land, during a very dramatic moment of history in my country, I found a wild and forgotten place of anarchy; a new provincial order, where people live their own lives, some of them even without any documents or connection to the state. Living in the city, it is hard to imagine a magical place like this, where people still see mirages, with local feudals, private security groups on watermelon fields and checkpoints in the middle of nowhere exists.

I wanted to find out why people stay there, what keeps them from leaving? And is it possible to find yourself or at least survive there?” – Director’s statement.

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