Skip to content

#HotDocs23 Review: When Spring Came to Bucha

May 8, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2023 Hot Docs Film Festival ran from April 27th to May 7th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

In their documentary When Spring Came to Bucha, directors Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz take us into the Ukrainian town of Bucha in the aftermath of Russian forces pulling out of the area, following a month of relentless attacks as part of Vladimir Putin’s “Special Military Operation” that began on February 24th, 2022.

The result is a unique film about the aftermath of war, the camera simply watching as stunned residents try to make sense of what has gone on. The film opens with a couple returning to their home, guided by a Ukrainian soldier who is searching the house for booby traps, and finds evidence of Russian soldiers having taken up residence before fleeing.

We follow along as soldiers and residents assess the damage to their town, and try to move forward with their lives in the face of impossible circumstances. They dig through rubble and try to identify bodies that are being buried in numbered graves. But officials discuss how they are running out of coffins, with the Red Cross not considering them to be a necessary expense. In another scene, a girl is doing art in her bedroom, and calmly reassures us that the blasts we hear outside her window are Ukrainian soldiers exploding unused shells.

There is an eery calmness to the film at times, a fascinating juxtaposition with the images we are seeing onscreen of human remains in body bags being put into the ground as dirt is shovelled over them. At just over an hour long, When Spring Came to Bucha presents an interesting, observational portrait of a town trying to recover, as people piece through what’s left of their lives.

Screenings: No more festival screenings, but the film will be streaming online across Canada from May 5th to 9th, and tickets can be purchased here.

Winner – Audience Award for Mid-Length Documentary

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: