breaking-pointWe are proud to announce BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine as an Official Selection of this year’s open competition. This documentary will be featured at future IAFOR academic conferences held around the world.

Official Selection – Professional Feature
BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine
Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris & Oles Sanin

In November 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, under pressure from Russia, rejected a promised trade deal with the European Union. Students and journalists quickly assembled to protest on the Maidan, Kiev’s Independence Square. The protests sparked a three-month revolution, which ended in the death of 123 protesters, the flight of President Yanukovych, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine, and a war that has killed 10,000 Ukrainians and displaced 1.9 million refugees.

BREAKING POINT depicts these turbulent events through the eyes of our principal characters – a children’s theater director, a doctor, a rabbi, a TV journalist, an investigative reporter, and a lawyer turned medic and her soldier husband – whose lives were all transformed by the revolution. When Russia retaliated by annexing Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine, our subjects went to war to defend and remake their country, risking their lives to create a more democratic and equitable Ukraine.

The documentary begins on the Eastern Front in Ukraine, where the war continues despite two supposed peace agreements. It then moves backwards to provide perspective on Ukraine’s long quest for independence and freedom, which led to the Maidan Revolution of 2013-2014. Eyewitness accounts and extraordinary footage depict the revolution in all its intensity. People who had never been politically active made a huge leap from their private worlds to engage in a collective effort to bring the rule of law and democracy to their country.

Fearing that this popular uprising could spread to Russia and threaten his own power and legitimacy, Vladimir Putin responded to the overthrow of Yanukovych by annexing Crimea, the most egregious land grab since the end of World War II. An invasion of eastern Ukraine followed, a “hybrid war” fought by pro-Russian forces, a war of tanks and missiles, accompanied by an incredible propaganda and disinformation campaign. With no army to speak of, and no money in the treasury, millions of ordinary Ukrainians stepped up to defend their country and equip their volunteer soldiers.

BREAKING POINT is the dramatic and inspiring portrait of people willing to give up their private, normal lives to unite in a collective effort to defeat Putin and bring the rule of law and democracy to their country. Their battle to wrest power from the autocrats and plutocrats who control their governments is a struggle that is being waged around the world, from the Mideast to America. The outcome affects not only the future of Ukraine, but of democracy itself. As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum says, “Ukraine has become a piece of a bigger struggle about the future of European democracy. Can European democracy even survive into the 21st century?”

Posted by Shawn Mahler

Los Angeles native Shawn Mahler has a wealth of experience working on film, video, and theater productions in the United States and Japan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Theory and Production from the University of California, Irvine. Shawn has spent over ten years in Japan where he has worked with numerous industry professionals to develop television shows, movies, and theatrical productions.