IN THE REARVIEW
(director/writer: Maciek Hamela; cinematographers: Yura Dunay, Wawrzyniec Skoezylas; Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Maciek Hamela, Piotr Grawender; Affinity Cine; 2023-Poland/France/Ukraine-in Polish, Russian, French, Ukrainian and English, with English subtitles)
“It’s truly a remarkable film that brings the war home to the viewer in the safety of their homes.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The war documentary is set in 2022 when Russia invaded the Ukraine. The Polish filmmaker and activist Maciek Hamela gave the fleeing Ukraine refugees (women, old men and children) van rides to Poland so they could escape the bombings. The van was purchased by him on his own. He would drive by day and his cameraman would drive by night.
Many of the rides were with the Ukrainians escaping from the eastern territory of Donetsk, which Russia has occupied since 2014.
Most of the film takes place in the van, where the camera is turned on the passengers in the backseats. They talk freely about what they are feeling as they leave their homeland for a new country and are deeply worried about their future, as they have no idea how long they will be gone from their homeland while their men remain home to fight in the war.
The camera also films the war-torn landscape with so many burned cars left abandoned on the road.
At one point, the van must take another road because a bridge on their path was destroyed. They must also avoid mined roads and worry about the relentless bombings.
It’s truly a remarkable film that brings the war home to the viewer in the safety of their homes.
It played at the Toronto Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 12/26/2023 GRADE: A