13-year-old Olenka sits alone in the classroom. Her teacher has nevertheless assembled part of the class, digitally on the screen. Each child reports what they wish for and where they are at the moment, fleeing the war with their family. Olenka, on the other hand, has meanwhile returned home to Borodjanka, a suburb of Kyiv. “I’m happy because I’m at home,” she says later. She is sitting at a nicely laid table in the garden, stroking the cat, the trees are in bloom.
In some scenes of the ARD report “Leben nach Butscha” by Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz, peace seems very close. “But life will never be the same again,” says Olenka. It’s a strange feeling: “As if time has stood still.”
In truth, the war is always present in this film about the people in Bucha, Irpin and Borodjanka: After the Russian army withdrew, the three suburbs of Kiev were in the public eye for a few days – as a synonym for committed war crimes, because on the streets the Bodies of killed civilians were found. Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz went there again five weeks later to show “life afterwards”, as they comment from the off at the beginning of their report.
Bodies are still being discovered, stored in sacks in refrigerated trucks, driven to cemeteries. Some dead cannot be identified. Women are searching for the bodies of their husbands, which have been recovered from makeshift graves and lost in the chaos. Coffins are missing. Yuri, who was the head of Borodyanka’s municipal utilities during peacetime, is now responsible for supplying coffins and burying hundreds of dead people.
It is up to the survivors to cope with the difficult everyday life. Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz accompany a city councilor who inspects destroyed houses and apartments, worried about booby traps left behind. They visit Olga, who turned her restaurant into a shelter for the neighborhood during the bombing and occupation.
Her multi-story home was also hit. There is no drinking water, a car battery provides light. When you see her husband mowing the lawn in the middle of a landscape of ruins, the quick-witted Olga shows black humor: “Our neighbors are freaking out. They will say: With this spirit, victory is ours.”
The scene of the recruits being sworn in on a large square in Irpin is also characteristic of the Ukrainian “spirit”. Because it is also the scene of a wedding. After pathetic songs, memorable chants (“Ukraine – above all, Putin – is a dick”) and the blessing of the recruits by a priest, a deeply kissing bridal couple, a recruit in uniform and his bride in civilian clothes, dance to the cheers and the Applause from bystanders across the square.
“Trauma and Hope” is the appropriate subtitle of the report in the series “The Story in the First”, which is also characterized by the fact that the authors largely refrain from superfluous comments.
As a supplement, the “Frontal” documentary “Die Straße des Todes” is recommended, which is now available in the ZDF media library after it was broadcast in the night from Wednesday to Thursday. In it, Arndt Ginzel uses images from Ukrainian reconnaissance drones to describe the fate of several families who were targeted by Russian soldiers on the Zhytomyr highway west of Kyiv.