French war journalist Loup Bureau, directing his first documentary, depicts the reality of the war that has been raging in Eastern Europe between Ukraine and Russian-backed forces over several years, a conflict that is no longer reported extensively by mainstream international media.
In Donbas, Ukraine, while precarious ceasefires are being negotiated far away by diplomats, Ukrainian soldiers fight against separatists supported by Russia. At an age when most young people in Europe are enjoying some of the best years of their lives, on the frontline men and women are fighting for their lives, condemned to dig, and dig again trenches while bombs fall on them.
Bureau takes us on “an immersive and stunning cinematic journey revealing the naked truth and roughness of survival,” according to a press statement, in what some refer to as the last conflict on European soil.
Unité’s Caroline Nataf, the film’s producer, said she had been on an “an amazing journey” with Bureau as he set out “to make people see and feel what this trench warfare in Ukraine means.”
With this, his first documentary, he was establishing himself as a filmmaker with the rare ability to know instinctively “where and how to put his camera in this complex human situation,” she said. This was “cinema as a necessity for our society,” she added.
Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO Films Boutique, said: “ ‘Trenches’ is a remarkable legacy on the strength and resilience of the young men and women fighting in Donbas. Bureau’s wonderfully crafted film with outstanding black and white images, takes us on a journey where he is risking his own life, alongside the soldiers and under the bomb attacks from the Russian army. The fact that the Ukrainian soldiers are hiding in the trenches but also digging new ones from prior wars, makes it so clear: history keeps repeating itself.”
The film is produced by Unité with the support of France’s Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), and the Région Île-De-France, in association with Sofitvciné 8.