Hot Docs 2016: Ukrainian Sheriffs – Roman Bondarchuk


Having it’s North American premiere last night at the Scotiabank theatre, this tragic-docu-drama follows two sheriffs, Viktor and Volodya in a tiny Ukrainian village near Crimea.

By turns funny, and emotionally stirring, the two officers, selected by the mayor perform all manner of services in the village as they cruise around in their beaten up patrol car. From keeping the peace, to maintenance to grave digging, these two encounter a bevy of quirky characters, who are at once familiar and far-removed from the everyday experience of the Westerner.

Bondarchuk earns the laughs early on, as there are minor altercations, thefts, and the village’s odd but endearing inhabitants, but the reality of the outside world sets in with the advent of a political revolution and the encroaching Russian forces that once again are drawing the Ukraine into a state of war.

While completely different people, both Viktor and Volodya serve their village resolutely and with love, trying to make it all it can be, despite the threats embodied by the outside world.

This one ends up being a revealing look at small town life, of people who have their hopes and dreams unrealized, dread the change that is coming, and hold onto the lives they have.

Beautifully shot, this is a bit of an odd watch, as we are introduced to the denizens, and their stories, but captivates nonetheless. It’s definitely worth a look, as these two men live in and for their village.

It screens one last time, today at Thursday at 9:45 at Scotiabank.



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