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In her first fiction feature film, after a documentary and two short films, Ukrainian director Christina Tynkevych already has an admirable ability to make practical use of some of the formal conventions of post-Dardennian auteur cinema, revitalizing them, while acting in accordance with an idea of exportability of the “arthouse” product, of a common language of festival cinema. The secret is in the screenplay that, openly declaring its debt to the cinema of social realism, manages to avoid the risk of the worst and emptiest aestheticization, and to anchor the variety of stylistic choices to a succession of gripping moments. From the hand camera, which gives no respite to the actors, to sequence plans that are never an end in themselves (each scene is shot in a single take), from the shots in the long field, which together with the introspective close-ups enhance the downtime of the acting and the stalemates in the intrigue, to the blurs that help us share the partiality of Anna's point of view, as the protagonist. All the way to the low-key photography by Vladislav Voronin: Yak Tam Katia? (How Is Katia?) is a dark, nocturnal film, with strong contrasts of light and shadow, in which often what happens is shrouded in darkness, inscrutable. Another merit of Yak Tam Katia? is that it is not a thesis film, and does not ride the wave of greater visibility acquired by Ukrainian audiovisual productions following the outbreak of war with Russia, it does not make propaganda, nor does it ever result in pornography of pain (and the themes of the film are delicate, first of all the cynical and cheating destiny). The contradictions of Ukrainian society are not a trivial background for Anna's personal events, so the film is not removed from either time or space, but instead the characters are all placed in a very specific context, the Kiev of today. The capital, from the film's early turning point onwards, is a disturbing labyrinth, mirroring Anna's mental confusion, and it's amazing how anamorphic widescreen ends up generating claustrophobia. The characters, endowed with authority, with whom Anna has to deal, in her path of suffering that mixes justice and the desire for revenge, do not manifest an unreal cruelty: simply, they are cogs in a Kafkaesque mechanism, a political system from dystopian science fiction, yet so realistic. Yak Tam Katia? , after all, is the story of an ordinary citizen who ends up at the center of a court case in which she cannot win, against power with its most ruthless face.
Christina Tynkevych makes her debut in the fiction feature film. To date she has directed three documentaries, two shorts and a long, and a short fiction, Solatium (2016), presented in various international festivals.