The problem with Maidan becomes evident within the first 5 minutes itself. Using the approach of a passive observer, the director chooses to film the events of this year’s Ukranian revolution and uprising by just showing up and letting his camera roll. This fly on the wall technique works if there is something happening (ala the excellent Our Daily Bread about the food industry) or when characters talk and discuss in an informative and insightful manner but Maidan is entirely composed of static shots of random episodes from ground zero lasting a patience testing 130 minutes.

The only bit of intervention comes in the form of written text when the screen occasionally goes blank, giving you a bit of context to what you are about to see, but the director’s method is otherwise lacking in any manner of perspective.  This would not have been so frustrating if we were given more information (why are the protests really taking place? What led to the impasse with neighbouring Russia? How will a resolution eventually be reached?) but you come out of the screening as uninformed as you were when you stepped in.

Granted, not a lot of people were willing to stay and find out if there was any kind of payoff, as witnessed by the hordes of walkouts in the screening I attended. They probably got tired of listening to the Ukranian national anthem (sung by the crowds at Maidan or random bums posing for the camera, on no less than 4 occasions) or just watching and waiting for something to happen while the camera sat focused on people being served meals, or cooking, or posing with each other while audiences squinted to catch something of interest amidst the crowds of people.

Sergei Loznitsa, who made the frightening, nightmarish My Joy and the grim WW2 drama In the Fog, two rather powerful features, does a big disservice to those who thought they were about to watch the Ukranian version of last year’s compelling documentary The Square, about the Egyptian uprising of 2011.  Dull and unwatchable, Maidan serves as a reminder that even with good intentions and a historic setting as the canvas, some documentaries need a point of view to anchor it.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and