Review: Roses. Film-Cabaret
- Watching this energetic Ukrainian documentary by Irena Stetsenko, makes you not only want to see a performance by its starring activist group, Dakh Daughters, but also to be a part of it
Women on the (intellectual) warpath, on the stage and - bravely as well as defiantly - in the troubled streets of Kiev. These are the leading ladies of Roses. Film-Cabaret, a non-fiction film written and directed by Irena Stetsenko, is a frenetic immersion into the core and spirit of the Freak Cabaret Dakh Daughters Band (who the filmmaker knows very well and whose complicity can be seen in her images), which combines music, performance and political militancy in its shows. This film was screened last week in the Country in Focus section of the 29th Palić European Film Festival, dedicated to Ukraine, after having premiered last year at the Docudays UA International Documentary Human Rights Film Festival, and having been screened at other festivals such as the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the Baltic Sea Docs and the Astra Film Festival.
But don't let the title confuse you. The cabaret that these warriors perform is not based on the carnality and epidermal exhibitionism that we are used to in the more conventional standards of this type of show (and that we have seen in films like Glittering Misfits [+see also:
film profile]), but rather these girls wear full face make-up, customised instruments and use baroque-inspired outfits that don't exploit their carnality. Their job is to entertain, not solely the crotch area, but also the heart and, above all, the brain, by questioning many social and political issues.
With devilish editing (in keeping with the fast beats of the songs heard in the film) courtesy of Mykola Bazarkin, which leaves no respite, Roses. Film-Cabaret intersperses performances by the band (which at times seem like female versions of their satanic majesties colliding with the universe of Lindsay Kemp), their trips by train and plane, intimate and complicit moments in the dressing room (where there is plenty of family harmony) and interviews with each of the seven members which reveal aspects of the band's formation, concerns and desires, always with great enthusiasm and youthfulness abound.
But the camera of debut feature film director Stetsenko also accompanies them (for five years) when they take to the streets, dressed for the occasion, denouncing in a fun, sensitive and witty way situations they believe to be terrible and acting in front of police and with protesters, conveying the same as this film: a unique sense of struggle, respect and freedom, which have turned this commentator into the number one fan of this brilliant, furious and irresistible band, just like the documentary it stars in.
Roses. Film-Cabaret, which received a special mention after its premiere at Docudays UA and then an award at the Ukrainian BRUKIVKA International Film Festival, is a production of the Ukrainian DGTL RLGN.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
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