Frank, a Tanzanian taxi driver who came to the Soviet Union to study, is just one of the colourful characters woven into Long Echo –Lukasz Lakomy and Veronika Glasunowa’s touching portrayal of life in a small Ukrainian town on the edge of a war zone.
As an outsider, Frank’s views on the history and contemporary story of Dobropolye, a small Russian-speaking mining town in Eastern Ukraine some 70km from the frontlines of the country’s festering civil war, create a narrative backbone for the film. Despite the many tragic and heart-rendering stories its subjects reveal, it manages to bring a light, lyrical and enduringly positive touch to its subject matter.
Part of a crop of Ukrainian and European-produced documentaries focusing on an internecine conflict that is now entering its fourth year, Long Echo offers a new perspective on a story that has all-but disappeared from the daily news bulletins of European media outlets.
Taking its title from the mournfully poetic lyrics of a Russian folksong that plays out the end titles, Long Echo carries many levels of meaning – from the distant crump of shellfire, to the enduring nostalgia for the Soviet Union evinced by older inhabitants of the neat little concrete apartment blocks that make up a town founded in 1900 to exploit the rich coal reserves beneath its green orchard-peppered fields.
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