One of the most acclaimed titles from last year’s Sundance Fim Festival, where it picked up the top directing awards in its World Cinema Dramatic section, Maryna Er Gorbach’s Klondike premiered just weeks before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Set in 2014, Ukraine’s Oscar entry for International Feature follows a pair of expectant parents living in eastern Ukraine near the start of the Donbas war. After an international air-crash catastrophe elevates the tension enveloping them, pregnant Irka (Oksana Cherkashyna) refuses to be evacuated and leave her home, even as their village is captured by armed forces. Ahead of an August 4 theatrical release from Samuel Goldwyn Films, we’re pleased to exclusively premiere the U.S. trailer and poster.

Here’s the synopsis: “July 2014. Expectant parents Irka and Tolik live in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, disputed territory in the early days of the Donbas war. Their nervous anticipation of their first child’s birth is violently disrupted as the vicinal crash of flight MH17 elevates the forbidding tension enveloping their village. The looming wreckage of the downed airliner and an incoming parade of mourners emphasize the surreal trauma of the moment. As Tolik’s separatist friends expect him to join their efforts, Irka’s brother is enraged by suspicions that the couple has betrayed Ukraine. Irka refuses to be evacuated even as the village gets captured by armed forces, and she tries to make peace between her husband and brother by asking them to repair their bombed house.”

As David Katz said in his Sundance review, “Klondike is a funny title for this harrowing, at times absurdist Ukrainian war drama, set as conflict with Russia began to spike in 2014. Referring as it does to the Klondike Gold Rush (the setting for Chaplin’s famous silent comedy), we could expect the resonance of two historical events to overlap, or at least sense a link between the actual subject and the analogy. But any gold in the grey expanse of the febrile Donbas region, where Klondike‘s set, is nary to be found: the landscape seems only dotted with cows and convoys of surface-to-air missiles. Perhaps it’s just a red herring designed to mock the idea of attributing meaning, which is what the shellshocked or aggressive characters in this film are also scrabbling to do, to no avail. “

See our exclusive trailer and poster premiere below.

Klondike opens in theaters on August 4.

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