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Stop-Zemlia. 2021. Ukraine. Directed by Kateryna Gornostai. In Ukrainian; English subtitles. 122 min.
Guided by a humane curiosity and completely lacking in sensationalism, Kateryna Gornostai’s penetrating study of the confusions and beauty of youth takes enormous emotional care as it observes a class of Ukrainian 11th-graders over the course of one year. A documentarian with a dramatist’s eye, the director uses a cast of remarkably poised teenagers playing fictional versions of themselves, centering mostly on Masha (a spellbinding Maria Fedorchenko), trying to make sense of the world around her, and the sensitive Sasha (Oleksandr Ivanov), who’s constantly negotiating a complicated relationship with his mother. Expansive in its time frame yet intimate in scope, Stop-Zemlia finds new, graceful ways to limn the edges of tender adolescence. An Altered Innocence release.
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