Mansky's observational style echoes these reflections, depicting the cities of Lviv, Odessa and Sevastopol as lived spaces, and using his own personal history in order to represent a kind of collective experience between his family members. He combines his reflective attitude towards everyday street scenes with a personal commentary that in some scenes echoes a subjective reading of the images. In his own way, Mansky creates a portrait of the life in several cities from a collective and autobiographical perspective at the same time.
Beyond such explicit references, Mansky creates a series of dialogues between the political situation in Ukraine and Russia. One of the most revealing sequences of the narrative is a scene wherein three of his aunts express and talk about politics via Skype and assert their conflicting opinions. Mansky pays particular attention to the way his relatives behave with their ideological beliefs. The decision to observe and emphasize this kind of behavior at length lead to situations in which one of the aunts neglects the presence of the other one.
In Mansky's film, the role of city-images is heightened, whether their motivation is connected with symbolic or aesthetic grounds, or whether by extension of temporal narrative challenge. The mise-en-scène of the narration becomes a documentation of certain, mostly Ukrainian places and spaces with an idea of representing subjective experiences in the middle of this landscape. The importance of the landscape is a crucial point since landscapes contain the ability to carry feeling with or without any human drama to precipitate it. The dramatic focus of the narrative lies in the confrontation between the audience and the landscape. This might look like a standard device in filmmaking, filling the spectator with undefined expectation, and connecting the narrative with filmmaker's personal thinking.
Essay by Dr. Jarmo Valkola
Tallinn University, Baltic Film and Media School
Guest Curator, Filmatique