French film-maker Anne-Laure Bonnel travels to the Donbass region to bear witness to the deadly conflict. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
01 June 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
In Anne-Laure Bonnel, a young director and mother of a French family, decides to accompany Alexander, a father of a Ukrainian family, to the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine in a pro-Russian zone. At the heart of the war, she captures the terrible images of a deadly conflict and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.
TeCs Tertulias en Cuarentena (YouTube)
In 2015, A.-L. Bonnel, then still a very young French documentary filmmaker, journalist, lecturer at the Sorbonne, at the behest of her heart, went to Donbass to accompany her father, a Ukrainian by birth.
At the height of the war, she captured horrific footage of the Ukrainian Army’s military regime’s punitive operation and the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe associated with it.
In his journal, the author comprehensively touches on the conflict. The French director gathered the detained people who met by chance during the trip.
A.-L. Bonnel emphasizes that while working on the film, she completely focused on human destinies and the reverse side of the war, leaving the political context behind the scenes.
A journalist-researcher, she penetrates the everyday life of the civilian population: it is they who become the main victims of the conflict.
A.-L. Bonnel managed to capture the scars and wounds on human souls, invisible to the naked eye, but engraved in the minds and hearts of the civilian population: fear, mourning, chaos. The director experienced the horrors and losses of the bloody conflict: during the filming, a member of her technical team was kidnapped and killed.
During the 11 months of work of A.-L. Bonnel, Ukrainian Army’s military operations in the east of Ukraine caused the death of more than 10,000 civilians in Donbass.
With lively and authentic filming, Donbass resembles a road movie created in search of lost values. However, according to the director, her work is, first of all, a metaphor for war, which is considered “in the human dimension” without political considerations. It was with this appeal that the film was presented at the festival “Au cœur des Droits Humains”, the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.
“We must be able to resist any violence that a person is capable of, and not forget what war does to people,” says A.-L. Bonnel.
Released in 2016, the documentary about the War in the Donbass by the French journalist and documentary filmmaker Anne Laure Bonnel is one of the must-sees to understand the current conflict in Ukraine, strongly motivated by a real civil war unleashed with particular intensity since the coup d’état of 2014 with the so-called “Euromaidan” that managed to violently dismiss the government of then President Viktor Yanukovych, since then, an armed conflict has begun, especially in the southeast of the country.
Anne Laure Bonnel is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who has been in several recent armed conflicts, including the Donbass conflict and the Armenian conflict.
In recent weeks, due to the military intervention of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, Bonnel, who resides in Donetsk, has appeared in some European media denouncing the indiscriminate bombings by the Ukrainian Army and the fascist and Nazi paramilitary groups that are, in the Donbass conflict, an armed wing of the Government of Ukraine.
For her statements these days, Bonnel has already been “banned” on social networks, her Instagram account being deleted, and being attacked on Twitter, where her @al_bonnel account is still available anyway, as well as on her Facebook page Anne-Laure Bonnel – Reporter, from where she uploads abundant material about the political and war conflict for years.
NOTE: There is also a new YouTube channel available.
This site includes a version of the documentary with Spanish subtitles.
2022-03-10 | Yao Minji | Shine
A documentary on the troubled Ukrainian region of Donbass by the filmmaker and French war correspondent Anne-Laure Bonnel is making waves for understandable reason.
In an interview with the French TV channel Cnews, she said, “I have no political message. But I know this conflict has been going on for eight years and there are up to 13,000 deaths now. People are exhausted … The Russian-speaking Ukrainian population has been bombarded by their own government. “
Her interview went viral, drawing both praise and outrage, with some accusing her of having a political agenda. The filmmaker responded to the accusations by reposting the link to her 2016 documentary, and videos of the ruins and people in the region on her Facebook page.
Bonnel also claimed that her film had been rejected in many countries, and had been repeatedly deleted from the Internet.
Within days of the interview, her documentary on the region was uploaded to many social media platforms. Prior to the TV interview, it had no ratings on the movie review site IMDB, but now it has a rating of 8.7/10 with 84 reviews.
Her Facebook page has more than 35,000 likes now.
The early YouTube posting of the documentary, which was uploaded in 2017, only had French subtitles. It carried a cautionary message posted by the social media sharing platform saying, “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”
Till date, it has chalked up about 300,000 views.
“They are all Ukrainians, and they are surprised that Europe is realizing the situation now, when for them, it has been everyday life for eight years. The situation has been lost since 2014,” Bonnel remarked.
It is clear that the roots of the ongoing Ukraine crisis are linked to incidences and atrocities in Donbass and the neighboring Russian-speaking regions. But only one side of the story is being played up, despite the fact that the locals have been living in fear for eight years.
It is becoming more difficult to get both sides of the story because of media bias, language barriers and social media search algorithms that are hard to comprehend.
Many Donbass residents were skeptical after Bonnel was introduced as a French journalist to the locals.
“Will they really show it?” was the common refrain.
A woman in the documentary is heard saying, “The whole world stood up for you when 12 people were killed,” which is very likely a reference to the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France. “When thousands of people are killed in this country, nobody cares.”
An old woman points to a 6- or 7-year-old boy and shouts at the camera, “Do they look like terrorists?”
The documentary starts with a 2014 speech by the then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who openly supported the “Maidan movement.” In the speech, Poroshenko is heard saying, “We will have work and they will not. We will have pensions and they will not. We will have benefits for pensioners and children, they will not! Our children will go to school and daycare, and their children will stay in the cellars! Because they can’t do anything. Precisely that, and that’s how, we will win the war. “
He was referring to the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine.
Bonnel said the speech was the reason she decided to travel to the Donbass region in January 2015 to “meet the inhabitants of Donbass and hear what they have to say.”
Some news sites argued that the speech was taken out of context. But “their children will stay in cellars” was apparently understood by many in the Donbass region as a reference to them.
There are also several video clips of Russian-speaking Ukrainians being harassed or beaten by masked men. The clips emerged around the time when a language policy was being discussed in the country. Russian-speaking Ukrainians complain about the bias in the policy. They identify themselves as Ukrainians but don’t want to give up on the Russian language.
In 2019, Poroshenko was replaced by the current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was reported in 2019 that police raided Poroshenko’s headquarters and gym for alleged theft of servers with classified information, tax evasion and money laundering. More criminal charges were added in the following two years, including state treason.
“You can understand a lot of things, but not torture,” a villager says in the documentary, alleging gruesome killings of fellow villagers, including one who had his ear chopped off, while bodies with hands tied to the back were also found.
A former Ukrainian soldier, identifying himself as Andrei, claims he deserted the army because “I would rather die with my people than kill them.”
Getting a proper and fair perspective on any global events is important, failing which, it becomes just another casualty.
French war correspondent Anne-Laure Bonnel is the person behind the controversial documentary “Donbass.”