IDFA: Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles & When Spring Came to Bucha


During this performance you will see the short film Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles followed by When Spring Comes to Bucha.

Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles

What are artists to do in wartime? To simply carry on doing what you’ve always done is impossible, the Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk remarked in an interview a few months after the Russian invasion. “Before the war, I was a filmmaker, but now everybody is a volunteer.” Ever since, he’s been making documentaries to show how the war has changed his country.

The words of Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Mykhed at the beginning of Liturgy of Anti-tank Obstacles illustrate the extent to which the war has bonded the population: “The language of war is now spoken by everybody. And every bayonet, no matter what it is, counts.” This otherwise wordless film shows sculptors making anti-tank obstacles instead of religious statues. The soundtrack accompanies these scenes with liturgical song from a church choir and, later, an air raid alarm.

When Spring Came to Bucha

Russians bombarded Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin and other cities in the region following their invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. By the time they retreated a month later, the damage was huge: buildings had been destroyed and there were corpses lying in the streets. Filmmakers Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz went in immediately, in time to film local people emerging from their shelters, but never showing the actual atrocities. That wasn’t necessary, as the trauma of war is clear to see on everyone’s faces, including those of the volunteers who rushed in from far and wide to help.

Over the course of several weeks, the filmmakers follow various residents as they pick themselves up from the smoldering ruins. The dead are identified, debris is cleared, and prosecutors start talking about a war tribunal. At first, all is panic, despair and sadness—accompanied by sheer bafflement that they have been attacked by a country with so many ties to families and friends. But as the first blossoms of spring start appearing, these Ukrainians also reveal their resilience.