Film Review and Sneak-peak: ‘Militia’ – The most realistic movie about the Donbass War

By Tikhon Goncharov


On June 7 the first film shot at the Lugafilm film studio about the Donbass war, “Militia” premiered in Lugansk. Starting June 8th, the film will be released in the LC. The DPR decided to start rolling a bit later. The producer of the film, the leader of the military music ensemble of the People’s Militia of the LPR “Novorossiya”, Roman Razum, told about the difficulties that preceded the release of the “Militia”, about the realism of the shooting, the musical component and the next creative plans.

  • Roman Razum interviewed by Tikhon Goncharov



TG: On June 7  the premiere of “Militia” will finally take place in Lugansk. Although in Donetsk there is a private showing on May 13. Why such a pause for almost a month?

Roman Razum: Initially we wanted the release to line up very much with the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the proclamation of the republics of Donbass, but then we decided we wanted to get into the clip of festive events into the film. And it turns out that this we have complicated the process of preparation. A large number of visiting guests, events, parades, rallies. It turned out to be difficult to release the film with this series of events. Therefore, we had to divide the premiere: first show in Lugansk, and now a month later in Donetsk.

TG:  There were talks that this film gets some opposition. Any comments?

RR: There were a lot of conversations, especially after the show was held in Donetsk, and in Lugansk it was postponed, although the film was shot only in Lugansk. This gave rise to various speculation, gossip. In fact, no one forbade the film. Just wanted to pick a more acceptable date that would suit everyone.


Another important factor is that on June 12 another movie about Donbass is released in cinemas – Donbass: Borderland, directed by Renat Davletyarov. The film was shot at the expense of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The film quality, is on the level. But we do not know yet what the meaning is. Absolutely nothing can be said for the ideology of the film. But the fact that, in addition to our film, another film about Donbass is being released in Russia suggests that cinema is already included in the process of supporting Donbass. That is, it is a very powerful cultural breakthrough. Not only we, but the Russians already make films. Maybe next year there will be something new. We are now starting at the level of fighting the ideological cinematographic propaganda of Ukraine. We already have something to answer.

TG:  Are actors and guests expected at our premiere in Lugansk?

RR: Yes, with the same composition, everyone will arrive in Lugansk, just like they came to Donetsk. Director Alexei Kozlov, the main characters are Maria Pern, Natalia Koloskova, our actress Natalya Starodubtseva. But in Lugansk it should be more powerful, because the entire technical part of the team will be present here – the producers, investors, assistant directors, screenwriter – almost all the project participants will take the stage.

TG: So, this will be on the 7th a closed show?

RR: Yes, precisely the seventh. The invited viewers will have the opportunity to take pictures with actors, to take autographs, there will be a press wave stand …

TG: In which cinemas of the LC the film will be released?

RR: Mir Cinema, Rus Cinema – from June 8. Two weeks, and then we’ll see what the flow of people will be, how much it will be in demand. Of course, the season for the premiere is not the best – summer, vacations, villas … But it was like that. Let’s see how people react. People are different: there are very patriotic, there are anti-patriotic, there are liberal. We hope that there will be a chain reaction – some will see, they will advise their relatives, acquaintances, friends.

TG: Will residents of other cities of the Republic be able to see the film?

RR: In other cities of the republic, we plan to show the film on short visits. Separate group with a projector, with a screen. We will show 1-2 sessions even where there is no equipment at all. Now we together with the Ministry of Culture form the schedule of cities. Stakhanov, Krasnodon, Alchevsk, Bryanka … Everywhere we will show this film, but in a certain queue. Gradually we will reach all cities of the Republic and show a film there. In addition, we are planning to travel to the front line with the Novorossia ensemble as servicemen and show the film right there. It is very important to show the film to those guys who are on the front line.

TG: Release in the DPR will begin almost simultaneously with the LC?

In the DPR, the release should have started almost simultaneously with the DPR, but it was necessary again to adjust the dates. Because of the premiere of the Russian film Donbass: Borderland, as far as I understand, the corresponding request took place from the Russian film distributor. Therefore, we decided not to lay down two films about the wars in the Donbass. Donbass: Borderland will be out first, and after a while Militia will be released.

Although we do not believe that this film bothers us. If five more films are released on this topic – it’s even cool. If the bomb is already on the movie, then let’s do it powerfully.

TG: What about the plans for release in Russia?

RR: Now people are doing this separately. This is Yuri Milchinsky – our main producer in the Russian Federation. Now I know that Rosgvardiya became interested. With their support, she plans to hold a private screening and an invitation to high-ranking military and top officials of the Russian government. This premiere will be held at the end of June, now we are waiting for the determination of a specific date.

In the near future we will get a release license. And then begin release in the Crimea, Krasnodar Territory. That is, resort coastal areas, where there are now many people, where the summer season is saturated. Well, during the year we plan to release it by region. We will especially pay attention to the regions where there are already a lot of our compatriots who moved in 2014, as well as volunteers – Voronezh, Lipetsk, Moscow, the Moscow region. But also capture the south, the Caucasus would love to see it. That is, all this is already in the process – people are engaged in this, so I may not know all the details, but the work in this direction is underway.

TG: Did you manage to present the film at some festivals?

RR: We wanted to show people the film as soon as possible. Russian festivals are still open, because the release begins so far only in the LPR. Maybe somewhere we will take part. But I would not strongly focus on them. We are already at the stage of the announcement of the premiere in May. And people are waiting very much. We in Lugansk, in the Donbass, have been waiting long for this release. They are waiting more for this than even for Donbass: Borderland. The waiting itself is a cultural event. Therefore, to postpone for another year because of some festivals is not entirely correct. It is for these reasons that we were not very focused on festivals.

TG: The main shooting was completed in the fall. What has been done during this time? I know that they were going to write a live-recorded original soundtrack?

RR: Yes, October 10 was the last shoot. And then we would not have been able to – it started to rain, the coming of Spring … During this time we actually recorded live sound thanks to the symphony orchestra of the Luhansk Academic Philharmonic, whose director Vera Vasilievna supported us. The composer is Yan Leshchenko, a military colonel, a former commander of the second brigade of the People’s Militia, now he is the head of the radar department in the corps. That is, the music in our film is mainly live, orchestral and very strong.


In addition, the film used a lot of songs – Chicherina, St. John’s Cure, 7B, my compositions. Many gave absolutely free their compositions. Especially Chicherina, thank you so much for her, she very well supported the film. Max Fadeev, our famous producer supported the film – he gave the song Nargis “Do not part with your loved ones”. He was hooked on the topic, and the passage that we sent him. Musically, the film is very full.

TG: Can we say that the film is not inferior to the movies of large film studios?

RR: Technically, we are certainly not the same film studios to show off, for example, some unreal special effects. In general, we initially had a goal to make the film realistic. Without the use of graphics. There are almost no graphics. Somewhere we just finished drawing some details. Everything else is shooting, flying, driving, real tanks …

Big studios are now focusing on an artificial visual range filled with artificial effects. I understand that they want to show, for example, how this projectile flies slowly, slowly breaking through the thickness of armor, but any person understands that this is not a real projectile flying. And you look and understand that all this is not real, this is all drawn. I do not know … It repels me all. Take the movie “T-34”. Well, they would say at once that this is a fantastic story about the T-34 tank, and they serve it as a movie based on real events, although this is a fairy tale at the “Lord of the Rings” level. I do not quite understand such a cinema.

We have no slow-motion projectiles, everything is for real. Everything is very realistic – you watch and get goosebumps …

TG: Many in the republics and in Russia, influenced by publications in the Ukrainian media, are still talking about the rebellion of tankers  like Druk to Ukraine, noting that she is supposedly the heroine of the film “Militia.”

RR: I have repeatedly said that the film was not made specifically about the history of these tank crews. This is a collective image. Yes, we met at the stage of writing the script with Druk, Olga “Fox” and Tina “Malaya”. But we did not see any artistic stories that could be included in the script. Some details were, but no more. In the collective images of our heroines lay the stories of other militias. We were interested also by the story of snipers, machine gunners. One girl from the medrota, whose daughter was taken to Kharkov … That is, on the basis of about ten 10 different militias, these images appeared. Therefore, the story of Druk is not reflected in the film at all. Absolutely.

Moreover, in a sense, this defector has reached our hands – tens of millions more people have learned about the film. On the other hand, we were very uncomfortable and sad, because we admired this crew and yet later there was this treachery. But there have always been traitors. And if to compare with the number of rebels who have come to us from the Ukrainian side, these are not comparable figures.

In addition, we do not know the whole story. There is a lot of darkness there. Where is she now, how was she taken out … Perhaps it was a purposeful attempt to desecrate a film that failed.

[Editor’s note – originally, rumors were that this film was to focus on the story of the female tank crew, and initial writing centered on them. Indeed, much of the story of ‘Militia’. Then it appears that Kiev or American connected figures, got a hold of these people and bribed or coerced them to disown the Donbass rebellion, thus throwing the film about them into a tailspin. So this interview reflects that, and the story was reframed, in the view of FRN, and this also explains some of the delays in release – J. Flores]

TG: Are there any further creative plans, after rolling “Militia”?

RR: Everything connected with the “Militia” will drag on for at least another year. Because we do not have a centralized release, but it may still be. Shows, trips to regions, meetings. Soon we will deal only with this.

I have another script for a very complex movie. But for now I will not even raise this topic and reveal the secret. We now have a slogan on the poster “filmed about war and during war.” Perhaps we will now make a film  “in war and not about war.” It may even be a children’s tale. I would really like to work with the local talented young people in the cinema to make the film not military, not political. Just reveal and show talents. 

In addition, I also have the “Novorossiya” ensemble, which is now not actively working because of the film, because all my guys he also worked on the film as a team who was a sound engineer, who was the lighting agent .. Therefore, I would like to resume the concert activity, to do a new album.

Creative plans – to continue to engage in cinema and music. This is what most of my life turns out to be.

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