A Rising Fury

July 7, 2023

In Documentary, Festival, Film Festival, Review, This Week by Dov Kornits

... a wake-up call.
by Reuben Stojanovic-Rowe
Year: 2022
Director: Lesya Kalynska, Rusian Batytskvi

Pavlo, Svitlana

Released: July 26, 2023
Running Time: 82 minutes
Worth: $18.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… a wake-up call.

A decade-long documentation of two Ukrainian idealists in love during times of great conflict.

Starting from the peaceful Kyiv protests in 2013 to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the couple abandon their old civilian lives to survive and defend their homeland, finding themselves on the frontlines of a battle that will test their allegiances to close friends and their commitment to each other.

While the world has certainly been made aware of the conflict through constant news coverage, there is a sense that many don’t quite understand the enormity of the situation. People with no connection to the conflict can easily dismiss it as just another foreign war and get back to scrolling their social media feed. A Rising Fury is a wake-up call. It may not have all the answers to those wanting to know why the war is happening, but it is certainly a powerful statement as to what the Ukrainians are fighting for.

Directors Lesya Kalynska and Rusian Batytskvi meticulously weave together hours of footage of failed protests, political upheavals, violent revolutions, and sporadic ground-combat. At the same time, they document the struggles of a love story between Pavlo and Svitlana, who are stuck in the middle of this terribly dire situation. There are truly breathtaking images captured onscreen, which are a testament to the bravery of the camera operators who put themselves through extreme personal danger to illustrate the chaos. Interviews with subjects are left to linger on the individuals, even if they have finished their sentences and have nothing more to say. The horror and grief in their face says it all.

The documentary’s main focus of Pavlo and Svitlana is a wonderful way to humanise and ground the events onscreen. The situation in Ukraine is an overly complex tale that spans decades and is difficult to explain quickly, but A Rising Fury is more interested in presenting it from what has been taken from the average civilian. Away from all the politics, many have been caught in the crossfire and have been pushed into picking up arms to fight for their land. It is especially tragic watching Pavlo fight to defend his birth-city of Donetsk from Russian invasion. Those updated on the conflict’s timeline will know fully well how this turned out.

While this lack of explaining the background behind this conflict may irritate some (President Victor Yanukovych’s resignation is only briefly mentioned), the film permeates a real sense of tension and urgency. It’s especially disheartening as the conflict continues every second while watching the documentary and even reading this very sentence. It really puts you into the shoes of someone who is stripped away of everything and must come to the defence of their loved ones. As Pavlo admits, Ukraine cannot wait for foreign aid. Their people must act now no matter the size of the threat.

A Rising Fury may only be a documentary, but the message it leaves us with will remain for generations.