Trenches: a fascinating documentary in the heart of Dombass [critique]

Loup Bureau spent months in 2020 on the outposts of the Ukrainian army, fighting pro-Russian separatists. A testimony that resonates with current tragic news.

His name had made headlines for being arbitrarily detained in Turkey – falsely accused of terrorism-related activities while covering the conflict-ridden daily in the region, but on the side of the Kurds – and then freed after a hard fight after an intervention by President Macron in 2017. But we discover with Trenches a new arc from the talents of journalist Loup Bureau.

He is indeed moving here for the first time to the production of a documentary which, shot in 2020, obviously finds a tragic echo in the situation that the planet is experiencing today with the war in Ukraine. For Trenches, he had indeed spent several months in Donbass, in a casemate of the outposts of the Ukrainian army, on the front line where the enemy positions of the pro-Russian separatists were within sight. A fascinating immersion by its perfect alchemy between substance and form. Because Trenches is a biased film. His sublime black and white images (where we perceive his past as a photo-reporter), his fascinating ambulatory sequence shots in the heart of these trenches, like the 4/3 format used, give relief and depth to this travel in a daily life made of waiting, of boredom that we deceive by playing video games, of camaraderie, of bombardments, of races to hide in the bunkers, of anguish… while the death that prowls has no no face. But this aestheticism is not free, it allows you to be closer to these soldiers, whose Bureau also shows himself to be a brilliant confessor of confidences over this time which stretches as the more the days pass the less this war both so close and so far away from them seems to want to end. We sometimes wonder what the cinema can bring to a subject apparently wrung out by the news channels With TrenchesLoup Bureau provides the most flamboyant response.

From Wolf Office. Duration: 1h25. Released May 11, 2022

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