A Film about Survivors of Russian Occupation is Set to be Released in Ukraine

March 3, 2023

The documentary Hostages of Madness tells the stories of three Ukrainians who fell victims to the Russian occupation during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The subjects of the film are:

  • Maksym Maksymov, a native of Donetsk who moved to Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, when Russia's aggression first started in 2014. In the summer of 2022, during the occupation of the city, he was kidnapped and tortured by the Russian military. Maksym was "sentenced" to death, but Ukraine liberated the city in time to spare his life.
  • Lilia Rukavkova, a lawyer from Mariupol. Together with her 13-year-old son, she survived constant shelling and the occupation of her hometown, managing to escape to free territory.
  • Oleksandr Kirey, a resident of Borodyanka, Kyiv Oblast. After being tortured by the Russian military, his leg developed gangrene. Oleksandr spent a week without food in an abandoned house in the Chornobyl exclusion zone. Oleksandr's story is told by his father. 

The film is directed by Ukrainian documentary filmmaker Stanislav Tsekhmisternko. The cinematographer was Viktor Zavalniuk. The film was shot between December 2022 and February 2023 in Borodyanka, Izyum, and other towns that were heavily affected by Russian aggression.

"The stories shown in the movie are evidence of the Russian military's crimes against humanity. This is human pain that cannot be measured. We are confident that the more viewers see these tragedies, the more chances we have to punish Russian war criminals," said Tsekhmistrenko.

The documentary Hostages of Madness was made with the support of the international organization Internews and the NGO Internews Ukraine. The film is planned to be shown on Ukrainian TV channels and streaming services.

Stanislav Tsekhmistrenko also directed the documentaries The Return (2016) and The Limits of Waiting (2018). The latter, a film about the family of a Ukrainian abducted by the Russians in Crimea, won the prize for Best Director of a Foreign Language Documentary at the 2018 Madrid Film Festival.