There is no job more thankless than the prophet of doom, nor one more necessary. […] [I]n an age when every conflict can be accessed or flicked away with the swipe of a finger on a smartphone, such cries of injustice generally constitute just another shout in the wind. The compunction to tell the truth remains, which is why Sergei Loznitsa’s body of work is so indispensable: It refuses to be complacent. The Ukrainian director’s Donbass is a natural follow-up to A Gentle Creature [HIFF 2017]: […] they’re both screams against a society that’s lost its humanity and can’t be bothered to care.
[…] Donbass recounts the corrosive nature of the conflict pitting Ukrainian nationalists against supporters of Russia’s proxy Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine. No one comes out clean, but how could they, when years of manipulation have malignantly stirred animosities on both sides? […] Donbass [results] in a scathing portrait of a society where human interaction has descended to a level of barbarity more in keeping with late antiquity than the so-called contemporary civilized world. […] Oleg Mutu’s supple camera acts as a silent, inquisitive historian recording every new offense, for capturing it all visually is the only means of ensuring that some truth survives. […] [T]he master cinematographer inserts himself and wanders in and among the actors, fixing them in space and guaranteeing that reality – the reality of the film – is honored.
Jay Weissberg, Variety