Evidence and Testimonies of the War in Ukraine in Šarūnas Bartas’ Film ‘Frost’ (2017) (Summary)

Renata Šukaitytė (PDF)

This article analyses the visual testimonies and evidence of the war in Ukraine in Šarūnas Bartas’ feature film Frost, drawing on theoretical concepts of testimony and evidence in the media (Cowie 1999, 2011; Nichols 1991, 2016; Zimmerman 2000). Bartas’ war drama uses the conventions of fiction and documentary filmmaking to capture the aftermath of Russia’s illegal annexation of part of Ukraine in 2014, and the subsequent military action in Eastern Ukraine. The viewer does not see the apparent warfare, the clashes between Ukrainian Army and Russian troops or separatist fighters but watches the testimonies of Ukrainian soldiers recorded on film and mobile phone cameras, and sees images of destroyed settlements, mined fields, front lines, etc., which prove that the war was indeed taking place and was having a strong effect on the lives of Ukrainian citizens. The theoretical analysis of the concepts of political cinema and advocacy and the genre and stylistic analysis of the film leads to the conclusion that Frost is a political, mixed-genre film about contemporary war, Russian imperialist policy, and those who are targeted by it. Furthermore, its wide international distribution and the use of subtle yet powerful rhetorical devices make it an advocate for the Ukrainians and other Eastern European peoples who are experiencing political and other forms of intervention and the hegemony of their ‘big neighbour’.

Keywords: auteur cinema; Šarūnas Bartas; political cinema; war drama; Lithuanian cinema; testimony; evidence; advocacy