A Snipers War (2018): Ukraine, USA

Reviewed by Jonathan Dill. Viewed at the SBIFF 2018.

I still can’t believe the luck that was on the directors side to find the main character of this documentary. Throughout the whole film I kept thinking to myself , this plot has to be scripted! But as the film goes on its evident through the shockingly raw first-hand footage that this was as real as it gets.

A Snipers War is a Documentary film about a sniper (Deki) who fights for the pro-Russian rebels in the Ukrainian conflict. Deki is a calm level headed man that has an underlining confidence in his skill as a sniper which brings him local fame and respect. But Deki is also an honest man who isn’t afraid to admit that constant death threats and bullets flying past his head are not the only trouble he deals with.

As the filmmakers (Olya Schechter and Santiago Munoz) followed Deki’s journey, I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for this professional killer when he opened up about the other personal wars he fights when he’s not on the front line. With the bleak winter landscape of eastern Europe and a fitting somber score this film really brings the viewers into the seemingly hopeless world of Deki and his ongoing battles.

This film was not only suspenseful and full of real footage from the battlefront, it also gives the viewers a non-biased viewpoint of the other side (or non-USA side) of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Without too much prior knowledge of the war I found it hard understand the confusing dynamics of who was fighting who and why, but even many of the characters in the documentary including Deki didn’t have the whole story and knew it. One of my favorite quotes from the film is “its a strange war, stranger than strange” (translated) But Deki and his comrades did what they in their minds felt was right.

With politics aside, this film does an amazing job in showing a whole different world that will make anyone thankful not to be in Deki’s position.

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