Svitlana Karabut, Pavlo Pavliv
Ruslan Batytskyi, Lesya Kalynska
T.J. Collins (Co-writer), Lesya Kalynska
"A Rising Fury" Captures the Humanity of War
There is, indeed, a profound fury that radiates throughout the remarkable A Rising Fury, an anxiety-inducing and deeply moving feature documentary centered around a story that we believe ourselves to know and yet of which we actually know very little.
Co-directors Ruslan Batytskyi and Lesya Kalynska have taken Ukraine's years-long fight for independence and made it an immensely personal one. The film engages several character studies yet largely revolves around two individuals in particular, Pavlo and Svitlana. Pavlo first enlisted in the Ukrainian army during Russia's invasions of the Donbas and Crimea regions in 2014. It was during this time that he met Svitlana, a single mother with whom he fell in love during the Maidan Revolution. Filmed over the course of eight years up to and including, at least to a certain degree, the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, A Rising Fury is mesmerizing and unforgettable cinema precisely because amidst all this war we are never allowed to forget that these are human beings. A Rising Fury also makes it clear that there's never really been a moment since Ukraine declared its independence in 1991 that the country has been able to restfully enjoy its independence. The looming shadow of Russia's desire for dominance always lingers and always threatens.
We are introduced to several key individuals, from hardcore soldiers to poets and musicians, and throughout A Rising Fury's 82-minute running time we're constantly following the relationship between Pavlo and Svitlana whether it be frontline battles or brief, heartbreaking moments of simple humanity that we know are destined to end.
If you are looking for a documentary with a happy ending, A Rising Fury isn't it because, as we very well know, this conflict isn't over and even over this past year women and children have been slaughtered freely and entire villages decimated.
Batytskyi and Kalynska have assembled a near masterpiece of cinéma vérité, a doc that practically defines what it means to be an indie doc and a doc that is equally riveting in its fierce battle sequences and quieter and more personal moments. There are characters here whose stories are complex, devastating really, and A Rising Fury is a constant reminder of the authoritarian regimes that continue to dominate this region and seem to masterfully infiltrate the political systems of any burgeoning nation that dares cry out independence.
Watching the transformation of these individuals over the course of eight years is a jarring experience, the stunningly resilient Ukrainian people humanized in a way that makes us understand far more than American media allows the roots of this conflict and why it seemingly never ends. Beautifully lensed Batytskyi with precision editing by Araby Kelley, A Rising Fury is the kind of documentary that lingers in the heart and mind long after the closing credits have rolled.
Oh, and those closing credits? A heartbreaking end to a heartbreaking film.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic