DOK Leipzig Film Festival

Oleg’s Choice

Oleg’s Choice

He had originally planned to stay only for three days, more of a short break. But now Oleg, a Russian from West Siberia, has been here for a year and is the commander of a battalion of volunteers whom no one called, no one seems to control and who serve in no official army. They didn’t come for money but out of patriotism, for Russia, which must be defended in the Ukrainian Donbass. Journalist Elena Volochine and photo reporter James Keogh want to know why they risk their lives there, far away from home.

They are interested in what Oleg thinks, regardless of propaganda and the quick looks taken by Western media – without fraternising with him. They take down the vocabulary that feeds his self-empowerment as the saviour of the Russian cause. “Someone has to do it”, or “We just want to help” are the catchphrases, accompanied by a soundtrack of cloying patriotic pop songs that draw on the former heroic pathos of the Red Army. Even if combat operations are left out of the film, respect is due to the filmmakers for the persistence with which they stay close to Oleg to comprehend how he reflects his experience. The film revolves around an operation commanded by him which will change everything. Once you’re infected with war you don’t get rid of the virus so easily.

Cornelia Klauß
Original Title: Le choix d’Oleg
Country: France
Year: 2016
Language: Russian
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 75 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Elena Volochine, James Keogh
Producer: Valérie Montmartin
Cinematographer: Elena Volochine, James Keogh
Editor: Elena Volochine, Tania Goldenberg
Sound: Elena Volochine, James Keogh

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