Sergey Loznitsa‘s prodigious documentary meticulously reconstructs the months before and years after the Babi Yar massacre. The archival footage is incredibly restored but harrowing to witness.

The extent of the horrific actions during WWII, orchestrated by Hitler and Nazi Germany, still baffle me to this day. I had never heard of their actions in Kiev against the Soviet Union. In September 1941, almost 34,000 jews got killed over the course of two days. This is one of largest massacres in the history of the Holocaust.

Leading up to the events that occurred in the Babyn Yar ravine, we get a sense of how cleverly the Nazi regime took over Kiev. The footage shown in the documentary is raw and mostly black-and-white, leaving nothing to the imagination. People being stripped and sent out in the streets, citizens beaten and dead bodies frozen in the snow, Babi Yar. Context is hard to watch.

The footage and sound is edited so well, it almost feels as if you’re watching a feature film. The cinematography makes it look as if you’re in the middle of a crowd of bystanders. Halfway into the movie, we shift to the events after the massacre and statements of the few survivors and those guilty of killing the thousands of innocents are being shown.

Babi Yar. Context is essential in sketching an even clearer picture of the full extent of the inhumane suffering during WWII.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cannes 2021 Review – Babi Yar. Context

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), July 11, 2021. Rating: TBC. Running time: 120 min.

PRODUCTION: An Atoms & Void production. Producers: Maria Baker-Choustova, Sergey Loznitsa. 

CREW: Director/writer: Sergey Loznitsa. Editing: Danielius Kokanauskis, Sergey Loznitsa, Tomasz Wolski.

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