Trempel Films
The Cacophony of Donbas
Available for online screening on TAKFLIX.COM
Docudays UA
Ukraine, 2018
Odessa International Film Festival
Ukraine, 2018
34th Warsaw Film Festival
Poland, 2018
Pessac Historical Film Festival
France, 2018
Honfleur Film Festival
France, 2018
Best Documentary film prize
Mariupol Film Festival
Ukraine, 2019

The Cacophony of Donbas» is a film about the elite of the working class of USSR – the miners of Donbas. The soviet propaganda had created such a false parallel reality that one day the situation had exploded and the war started. Life promised to be a symphony of work, joy and well-being, but it turned out to be deceit and manipulation. There are no illusions left. «The Symphony of Donbas» has turned into «The Сacophony of Donbas».

A contemplative film whose idea is to explore the creation of the myth about the Donbas by using archive footage from documentary and feature films. The film's plot develops along two planes. The first is life through the eyes of Soviet propaganda and the Donbas as a showcase of ideology. The second is real life, hidden from unwelcome eyes. The film uses archive footage and recordings of interviews with former Donbas residents who witnessed Russian aggression and became its victims.
Production year


62 min

Countries of production

Scripted & Directed by
Igor Minaev

Produced by
Iurii Leuta

Music by
Vadim Sher

Olexander Podoprigora

Director of photography
Volodimir Pallik

Director's statement
Igor Minaev was born in 1954 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Was studing at Kyiv National University of Theatre, Film and TV n.a. Karpenko-Kary, feature film department, 1977. Works and lives in Paris.

2018 - The Cacophony of Donbas
2015 - Blue Dress
2006 - Away from Sunset Boulevard
2002 - Moonlight Meadows
1995 - The Flood
1991 - The Underground Temple of Communism
1990 - Ground floor (Сannes Film Festival)
1988 - Cold March (Сannes Film Festival)

Since the beginning of 2014 the world had been talking about the military conflict in Donbas. There had been some documentaries, many journalistic reportages about what was happening in the East of Ukraine. Mostly all of them were talking about actuality that is still very unclear for many people. In our film we try not only to answer the questions: 'what is Donbas', 'why is this war', but to analyze the nature of creating the biggest soviet myth, the myth about Donbas that inevitably led to this conflict. The film shows the consequences of more than seventy years long soviet propaganda and manipulation.

Nowadays the danger of propaganda and its terrible consequences seem to be clear for everyone but some political leaders still use it to create hostility among nations. By our film we want to say once more that the life spent in illusions and lie, manipulated by propaganda corresponds to the proverb 'They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind'.
Igor Minaev
Interview with Igor Minaev
We know very well Dziga Vertov's film, "The Symphony of Donbass ", released in 1931. More than half a century later, you make "the Cacophony of Donbass": why?
— "The Symphony of Donbass " was a propaganda film intended to attract laborforce in the Donbass mining area. But Dziga Vertov, who was a big film director passionate about formal language, cared little about reality. His film sanctifies the work of miners, it's an epic time when the Soviet miners were considered as demi-gods. Over the time this world has disappeared, the miners have gone on strikes fighting for their rights, the paralyzed the country and later Donbass found itself in the war. This is where the symphony becomes discordant and where it turns into the cacophony.
You use many unpublished archives from the 30s to the 90s: how did you work with these documents?
— The archival films, documentaries or current affairs films of that period were entirely a mise en scene shootings in order to present the life of the miners under the most enviable way in order to embellish theirs` life. Censorship did not allow the portrayal of real life. So the archives we used presented a parallel life, completely artificial reality. So our goal was to decipher what is behind these smooth and polished images.
That's why you use the voice over to comment and decrypt images.
— Today we talk a lot about "fake news": the power of conviction of these images if we watch them passively is such, that sooner or later we start to believe that there is a paradise on earth. That's why we felt it necessary to comment on them.
In addition to the propaganda archives of the first part of your film you then show the images of the great miners' strike of 1989 ...
— In 1989, at the time of Perestroika, for the first time censorship disappeared! Reality has caught everybody`s eyes. The real life of the miners with their difficulties, their material misery, their distress that everyone did not know became apparent. The miners have stopped being heroes and half-gods. They have transformed to mere mortals, exposed to the explosions of methane that Soviet press never reported before and living in deplorable material conditions. We are far from brand new flats and miraculous wages.
What happened next?
— From the 90s Communism gives way its place to the wild capitalism. Small numbers of people had big profits as the majority were doomed to survive. Money has won.
After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, men "non identified" occupy the Donbass and Russian-backed separatists proclaim the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. What happens to the population of Donbass?
— The population of Donbass has always been very heterogeneous. There were Ukrainians, Russians, Uzbeks, labor workers from all over the ex-USSR. Despite this diversity, there was no ethnic or language conflicts. In 1991 Ukraine became an independent state and in 2014 Russia made numerous provocations based on the national differences so as to divide the whole society. Yesterday's neighbors have become enemies.
How did you choose people for the interviews?
— I met people who had fled the war and had taken refuge in Kiev. Virtually all of these witnesses were captured and tortured by the separatists. They are direct witnesses who have suffered horrors defending their country in order to remain united.
What was your intention in making this film??
— I wanted to show that ideology, whatever it is, destroys people and distorts the world. It values hatred and imposes lies instead of truth.
Press release
With the support
Ukrainian State Film Agency
Ministry of Culture of Ukraine
Distribution in France
Zelig Films Distribution
Distribution in Ukraine