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On the Frontlines: Filming Ukraine's Fight for Freedom A Conversation with CIFF Filmmakers Evgeny Afineevsky & Lesya Kalynska

Learning about the challenges of filming a war documentary in Ukraine.

Film can serve as an agent of change. It shares stories, amplifies voices, and draws attention to our world's most pressing issues. Today, all eyes are on Ukraine's fight for freedom and peace--which they have fought for since their declaration of independence in 1991. In partnership with the Cleveland International Film Festival, the City Club will be joined by two renowned directors whose frontline films redefine wartime documentaries.

Directed by Lesya Kalynska, "A Rising Fury" was filmed over nearly a decade and begins with 2014's Maidan Revolution. It captured a portrait of resistance in Ukraine during the years before and right up to the 2022 Russian invasion. The film provides an intense look at the intimate tactics taken by Russian forces to infiltrate Ukraine and make possible the devastating invasions to come.

Evgeny Afineevsky's "Freedom on Fire" is narrated by Helen Mirren, and follows the war in Ukraine from a ground-level view. Focusing largely on the experiences of average citizens, including mothers, volunteers, and journalists, the documentary portrays life as Ukrainians lived during the 2022 invasion and the fraught years leading up to it.

Join these two directors at the City Club as we learn more about the challenges of filming a war documentary, and what it took to share ground-level accounts of Ukraine's ongoing fight for survival and independence.


  • Evgeny AfineevskyDirector, Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom
  • Lesya KalynskaDirector, A Rising Fury


  • Dan MoulthropCEO, The City Club of Cleveland