Alexander Mihalkovich & Hanna Badziaka / , & / 2023

Dark and monumental film from Belarus, where corruption and a brutal military culture push young people to choose sides. A film in two tracks, from rave parties in heavy industrial wastelands to the neo-nationalism of post-Soviet society.

Svetlana has lost her son who was found dead while he was in the army. As she tries to shed light on the culture of violence and abuse in the Belarusian military, a group of young friends from the techno underground soon face being drafted themselves. They go to rave parties in undershirts and round sunglasses, but in a moment the party could be over  at least until huge protests break out in the streets following the recent ‘re-election’ of dictator-president and Putin sympathiser, Aleksandr Lukashenko. A glimmer of hope and a promise of change, which only causes the brutality of the authoritarian society to erupt in full force. Belarusian directors Hanna Badziaka and Alexander Mihalkovich have created a major film that reaches far beyond the country’s borders and analyses the post-Soviet condition from a perspective rarely seen: that of the young people. A scene where the prisoners are released in the middle of the night after a demonstration is overwhelming in its silent, emotional intensity. With eminent camerawork and an intimate knowledge of the culture, ‘Motherland’ is one of those rare films that manages to encapsulate a crucial point in history while it is still unfolding.