Russia brought war to Ukraine in 2014. First it illegally annexed Crimea. Then it invaded the Donbas region, which covers most of the territory of Donetsk Region and the south of Luhansk Region. Special Russian diversion groups are capturing cities in the region and arming local collaborators.
Under Russia’s directives, fake referendums are being organized and as a result puppet governments are being instated. Unfortunately, the turbulent political situation in Ukraine helps the insurgents. The acting president flees Ukraine, leaving the country without leadership. While the new elections are being held, Russia takes advantage by sending in heavily armed military machines. Yet, all the while, denying its presence in the region.
As people find themselves facing the war, some of them leave as far from the conflict zone as possible. Others pick up arms to protect their families, homes, and everything they hold dear.
Patriots from all over Ukraine, many without any military expertise, unite in volunteer battalions to defend the territories being occupied. The names of the battalions are symbolic, such as Donbas, Azov, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Lviv. They are compatriots who come together to defend their land.
These volunteer battalions were the ones who were in the forefront of the struggle in the hot summer of 2014. In August, Ukrainian warriors fight their way into Ilovaysk, a small but strategically positioned town very important to the liberation operation. Russia doesn’t want to lose the initiative. It sends in heavily armed military units, for the first time revealing its role in this war to the world. The unequal battle bleeds the surrounded Ukrainian warriors out. Over 500 dead, hundreds wounded and captured.
The film is a military drama.
The soldiers of the Donbas Volunteer Battalion are at the epicenter of these events. Different fates, different personalities. But a single goal: to reclaim Donbas, which for many of them is not just some territory. It is their home which a stranger is messing with.
A victory after a victory. It seems that the end goal is near. The last obstacle on the way is Ilovaysk. The battalion commander Beshoot leads his soldiers to attack. But they are met with powerful opposition and, when their reinforcements don’t arrive on time, they gradually lose their positions. They are no longer fighting against “militia.” Their opponents are well-armed and highly trained soldiers. Beshoot and Quentin are wounded and they cannot retreat with the rest of the battalion. They manage to find a temporary shelter at the place of a local resident, Petrovna. But their battle is not over. Everything is just beginning...
We started to work on the film 3 years ago, in 2015, with writing a script based on this heroic story.
In summer 2018, the filming began and lasted for 50 days.
This war is still not history, but the present we live with every day. Donbas is still occupied. So we looked for locations all over Ukraine. We filmed in small towns similar to those featured in the film. We reproduced the atmosphere of war in one of the abandoned towns.
All the scenes with special effects were filmed with pyrotechnics and stuntmen. This is how the director managed to achieve maximum similarity to the actual events and to minimize the role of post-production.
The events depicted in the film took place in the Donetsk Region and in Ilovaysk in summer 2014. The film had to be made to pay respect to the deceased. But the living need it even more. We need it because we have no right to forget. We must return. Return as they wanted to return - victorious.
The names of the dead in the film have been changed. That was the wish of their brothers who survived and helped the actors to tell this story to the world.
The events have been recreated as close to reality as possible.
These volunteer soldiers are co-creators of this film. Working closely with the director, making sure the authenticity of the story is in tact.
Genre: War Drama / Action Movie
Running time: 120 min
Language: Ukrainian, Russian, English
Country of production: Ukraine
Based on a true story. Two fighters of ‘Donbas’ Volunteer Battalion get locked inside city of Ilovaysk after regular Russian army enters Ukraine and shells the surrounded divisions of Ukrainian Army in the infamous would-be ‘green corridor’. The fighters survive thanks to the help of the locals and manage to break out through the front line to reach the freed territory. Taras Kostanchuk who is playing himself as ‘Beshoot’ is that same Donbas commander who is the prototype of the story. Half of the actors and extras are real ‘Donbas’ volunteers who survived the battle.
Directed by Ivan Tymchenko Produced by Svitlana Soloviova & Taras Kostanchuk
Written by Mykhaylo Brynykh & Taras Kostanchuk
Cinematography by Oleksandr Zemlyanyi
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1, 2D, Color Sound: Dolby 5.1
Scheduled release: October 2019
Volunteer soldiers spend hours conversing with the actors. Some of them also playing the smaller parts. They need to get across their feelings and experiences as authentically as possible. In turn the actors help the soldiers with their acting skills.
The camaraderie between them serves to make the filming process more smooth as well as helps the story being told to look and feel as close to reality as possible.
It is important for them to understand each other, to feel and learn.
The fighters from the battalion teach the actors the basics of military training. They explain how to survive in harsh conditions of the war.
They also just talked. They talked a lot. So they could speak the same language in the film.
When the screenwriter, Mykhailo Brynykh heard the story about this episode in the life of Taras Kostanchuk (callsign Beshoot, commander of a storm brigade in the Donbas battalion), he saw more than a personal life story. It was an inspiration to create the script.
The director, impressed with Taras’s charisma and faith that this story is worth showing to the world, offered him to play the leading role. To play himself. Because he understood that no one else could convey such passion and energy.
Taras was the inspiration for the film.
Ukrainians need his story. They need it to win.
The world needs his story. The world needs it so it could never happen again.
Directed by Ivan Tymchenko
Ivan was born in creative family of artists, cinematographers. From early childhood he used to spent all his holidays on shooting set. Started to work as a photojournalist, advertising photographer, then continued as a cinematographer, film director. Many of his works (TVCs, short films) he did himself as directing/dop. “Beshoot” is his debute feature film.
Cinematography by Oleksandr Zemlyany.
Despite his age Oleksandr has 5 feature films in his filmography. Two of which are war dramas. His works got mutual awards for different festivals.
Produced by Svitlana Soloviova
Svitlana is one of the most experienced producers with background of 15 years in film, TV and TVC production in Ukraine. She is a founder of Svetofor Film which has credits in work with industry giants like BBC, MTV & ZDF/Arte.