Ukrainian surgeon Serhiyis is captured by the Russian military forces in the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine and while in captivity, he is exposed to horrifying scenes of humiliation, violence and indifference towards human life. After his release, he returns to his comfortable middle-class apartment and tries to find a purpose in life by rebuilding his relationship with his daughter and ex-wife. He learns how to be a human being again, how to be a father and help his daughter, who needs his love and support.

Director's Statement

The impetus to make this film was an incident witnessed by my daughter. A dove flew into our window and crashed. This event caused my 8-year-old daughter a lot of questions, which I tried, like the hero of the film, to answer. These questions were about life and death, soul and body. About what happens after death. For these important questions a person is looking for answers all his life. The second impetus for making the film was cruelty. Regarding cruelty, I showed only a small part of what happened and is still happening in prisons organized by the Russian special services in the occupied territory of Ukraine. This is confirmed by people who return to the territory controlled by Ukraine. Our consultant was Stanislav Aseev, a Ukrainian journalist who worked as a correspondent for Radio Liberty in Donetsk and spent two and a half years in a prison called «Izolyatsia». Upon his return, he wrote and published a book about these events. He was detained on charges of espionage and was also tortured. The decision to visualize these traumatic scenes was caused by the desire to show to the civilized world the inhuman torture that takes place not somewhere far away but in Europe itself. And they occur in the 21st century and are the result of Russia's war against Ukraine, and no one is immune from the expansion of this war. Unlike my previous film ATLANTIS, in which the hero could not be broken by the war, in REFLECTION I showed a simple man who made an emotional decision, understandable to many people in Ukraine, to save the lives of soldiers on the front line. He is a simple civilian surgeon, not a hero in the conventional sense, but he wanted to be useful to his country. Such type of people is always the majority in any country. People who sympathize and want to be useful to society in critical situations but are not ready to die. And as a result, they are left alone with their problems when they return home. With my film, I wanted to draw attention to such people and evoke empathy for them, despite the ambiguous actions that can be interpreted in completely different ways. Probably this was the most serious difficulty during the making of the film. Many are tired of the war in Ukraine and want to do business with Russia as before. But if Russia's aggressive policy is not resisted, Ukraine will disappear as an independent state. Next in line will be the Baltic countries, the countries of the former socialist camp, and then Old Europe. Russia's imperial ambitions demand endless territories and victims.

Director's Biography

Valentyn Vasyanovych is a director, producer and DOP. He was born in 1971 in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. He graduated from the Karpenko-Kary National University of Theatre, Film and TV as a cinematographer in 1995 and a documentary filmmaker in 2000. In 2007, he finished his studies at the Wajda School in Poland. In 2012, he made his debut feature film BUSINESS AS USUAL (Odesa International Film Festival, Special Jury Mention, FICC award). In 2014, Valentyn Vasyanovych produced and photographed THE TRIBE by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi. In 2019, the feature anti-utopia film ATLANTIS won the Best Film Award in Orizzonti at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, and a large number of prizes and awards around the world. His newest feature REFLECTION has been selected for Competition at 78. Venice International Film Festival ni 2021.

2019 - ATLANTIS (ATLANTYDA), Feature
2014 - CREPUSCULE (PRYSMERK), Documentary
2013 - CREDENZA (KREDENS), Feature
2001 - OLD PEOPLE (STARI LIUDY), Documentary
1998 - KEEPSAKE (NA ZGADKU), Documentary

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Valentyn Vasyanovych

Written by: Valentyn Vasyanovych

Produced by: Vladimir Yatsenko, Iya Myslytska, Valentyn Vasyanovych, Anna Sobolevska

Cinematography: Valentyn Vasyanovych

Editing: Valentyn Vasyanovych

Production Design: Vladlen Odudenko

Costume Design: Olena Harmanenko

Make-Up & Hair: Hanna Lukashenko

Sound: Serhiy Stepanskiy

Casting: Tetiana Symon

Cast: Roman Lutskiy (Serhiy), Nika Myslytska (Polina), Nadia Levchenko (Olha), Andriy Rymaruk (Andriy), Ihor Shulha (Chief of the Prison)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2022