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Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine

MP2, Pronto Film - 97 min
  • DIRECTOR: Mark Jonathan Harris, Oles Sanin

SHOWTIMES 05/25/2024 (change date):

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BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine looks at people transformed by a democratic revolution, who give up their normal lives to fight a Russian invasion, in a war which has killed 10,000 and displaced 1.9 million Ukrainians.



Overall Rating Based on 17 Reviews
4.3 out of 5 stars
Tell us what you think about this movie.
Current Reviews
5 out of 5 stars

Uplifting and deeply moving

March 25, 2018
I saw Breaking Point on the Friday that it opened and I was really blown away by it. The film captures the resiliency of the Ukrainian people so beautifully, and it perfectly sets up the historical elements that are necessary to understand the current crisis. I am very moved by the stories shared in the film, and heartbroken at the atrocities Putin has been committing, and continues to commit every day. In the end, the film ultimately lifted my spirits and left me with a feeling of hope, witnessing how strong the spirit of the Ukrainian people is, especially in the face of tremendous evil. Thank you for making such a thought-provoking and eye-opening film.

5 out of 5 stars

Totally compelling thriller documentary about the War for Democracy in Ukraine

March 3, 2018
Three-time academy award-winning documentary director Mark Jonathan Harris teams with Ukrainian director Oles Sanin for Breaking Point, a thoroughly compelling thriller of a documentary about the War for Democracy in Ukraine. The directors examine a country transformed by a democratic revolution. The multiple protagonists, who have given up their lives to fight a Russian invasion, each bring their personal experiences to the insightful analysis of a war that has killed over 10,000 and displaced 1.9 million Ukrainians. Breaking Point examines revolution and war on an intimate, personal level. And, it offers a potent warning against allowing foreign powers into the election process and the press — a warning that should resonate strongly with viewers in the U.S. as Russian interference into our own election continues to be investigated. Breaking Point begins with a poetic voice-over on a foggy road, as one of the film’s subjects, discusses his belief that “beauty, art, and love” will save the world. But these beliefs have been put the ultimate test. He notes that when “they started killing people – it was the breaking point, when people realized helping from a distance was not enough anymore.” From a look at a bleak and bombed out airport still under attack, the film seguees back to 2013, when a social media post drew huge crowds to Maidan Square in the nation’s capital, Kyiv, to protest the Ukrainian president’s refusal to allow the country to join the EU. With tense and compelling editing and the juxtaposition of a variety of stories, the film describes how the protestors “lost their fear of death,” and takes a long hard look at the “blatant land grab” for Ukraine’s territory by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and how the revolution against Russia’s interference led to the formation of a people’s army. Harris and Sanin expertly weave stories such as that of an investigative reporter run off the road and beaten by thugs affiliated with the pro-Russian government, with that of resistance leaders and political scholars. The shocking recognition of Russian influence in the media, as well as the government itself, should strike a familiar chord for viewers – the phrase “fake news” is all too real in Ukraine. From photoshopped images spreading lies about protesters to paid actors portraying pro-Russian Ukrainian citizens, the manipulation is chilling and well-orchestrated. Describing the Russian propaganda machine, the point is made that “Russians understand western media better than western media does. They understand the short attention span...” The underlying message of the film could not be more timely, that the future of European democracy, and perhaps of democracy itself demands that Russia stop undermining the west. In Ukraine, ordinary citizens took on those demands; in today’s U.S. political climate, the film is a must-see.

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4 out of 5 stars

A heart-breaking account of Ukraine's trials and tribulations in the name of democracy

March 2, 2018
This is a must-see and must-share story of Ukraine's most recent struggles to defend its pro-European, pro-democracy choice. A masterful collection of flash-episodes weaving the fabric of the tragic story of the nation that is trying to reassert its identity in the face of Russia's treacherous onslaught. Please come. Please watch - if nothing else, out of respect to a foreigner who tried to provide insights into the motivation of a civic society reborn through pain and blood. I took one star off simply because this documentary, objectively speaking, undertook a futile attempt to pack an entire layer of an entire country's modern history into an hour and a half, so the pace of the movie is almost time-lapsing. This could better be suited by a mini-series. Still, this work touches you on a deeply emotional level.

James P.
5 out of 5 stars

Epic Documentary worthy of Eisenstein

March 2, 2018
110 years after the sailors' mutiny aboard the Russian battleship Potemkin and 90 years after Soviet film director's Sergei Eisenstein’s monumental film comes the epic documentary BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine. The decision by Ukrainians to pursue prosperity with Europe brought on Russian aggression and the illegal annexation of Crimea. In both films men and women seeking peace and freedom confront brutality and death. Battleship Potemkin is famous for its graphic depiction of Russian troops gunning down ordinary citizens on the Odessa Steps. The filmmakers of BREAKING POINT similarly bring the audience unflinchingly close to images of the war unleashed by Russia, using startling documentary footage and emotional interviews with participants to make us feel that “We Are There”. Free societies value a people’s right to peaceful protest and self-determination. It is a rare film that can demonstrate these democratic values and can inspire people suffering from oppression. BREAKING POINT shows courageous Ukrainians striving to live as a free people in peace and prosperity, in a world ruled by laws, not by gun, tank or bomb.

5 out of 5 stars

Ground Zero for the War against Truth

March 1, 2018
Breaking Point is a crucial part of the story in what has developed as a international war against truth. Russia's troll farms were infamously scaled up to spew misinformation about what happened in Ukraine. Those counter-narratives, constructed by the Kremlin and its propagandists, permeated through US and Europe through social media sites, often picking up organic steam from people who wanted to believe the fake news. Sound familiar? This movie shows what emboldened Russia to spread disinformation about Brexit, the 2016 US elections, and other elections across the EU. Despite what the world has learned about Russia's behavior, the battle for truth has continued to rage since the Breaking Point.

5 out of 5 stars

Remarkable footage & film

March 1, 2018
Breaking Point is an incredible lens into the Revolution in Ukraine during the winter of 2013-2014. It is a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a citizen of the world, particularly in an era in which truth seems harder and harder to come by. One striking element of the film is the footage. As perhaps the most recent revolution to take place in a western society, the camera technology on the ground provides a life-like quality to the documentary. Cinematically, the film is striking; then you realize that this actually happened in real life, not a studio. Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 stars

Positive New York Times review ---- a "Fierce Documentary"

March 1, 2018
New York Times - Review: ‘Breaking Point’ Finds Fake News and Real Violence in Ukraine Review: Positive Thursday, March 1 Review: ‘Breaking Point’ Finds Fake News and Real Violence in Ukraine BREAKING POINT: THE WAR FOR DEMOCRACY IN UKRAINE Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, Oles Sanin Documentary By KEN JAWOROWSKI MARCH 1, 2018 The first line of the Ukrainian national anthem is “Ukraine has not yet died,” one interviewee says in “Breaking Point,” a fierce documentary about that country and its recent clashes with Russia. For a land often perched on the edge of ruin, she says, mere survival is something to celebrate. Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin, the film starts with a rundown of a history that has repeated itself for centuries — invaders have long prized Ukraine for its resources and geography, and modern times are no exception. Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has been subject to constant pressure from Russia, whose forces seized Crimea in 2014 then intervened to support armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The filmmakers supply terrifying footage: At civilian rallies, we see nightstick beatings and bloody riots. During military battles, bullets whiz by and explosions shake the cameras. Nerve-racking scenes follow Ukraine’s extraordinarily bold volunteer soldiers. Just as disturbing is an analysis of Russia’s worldwide fake news campaign, which spreads contradictory reports and Kremlin-friendly propaganda. “The Russians understand Western media far better than the Western media understands itself,” one interviewee says. “And they play to the Western media’s short attention span.” Another says: “Disinformation destroys reality. The Russians are masters of this — they have built a parallel reality.” “Breaking Point,” subtitled “The War for Democracy in Ukraine,” ends on an uneasy note, as hostilities with Russia persist and as Ukraine strives to rebuild. All of those interviewed carry anxiety in their voices. They, along with Mr. Harris and Mr. Sanin, know that with this country’s dark past, it’s risky to bet on a bright future.

Santa Barbara Independent
5 out of 5 stars

Passionate & Chilling Look at Revolution & War -- Striking Emotional Insight

March 1, 2018
Santa Barbara Independent Review, January 2018: Foreign empires, beginning with Genghis Khan, have been invading Ukraine for centuries, drawn by fertile soil and oceans of wheat. Three years ago, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin did the same in response to the Maidan Uprising, the Ukrainian equivalent of Tiananmen Square. What started off as a peaceful protest against a corrupt government that did Putin’s bidding, turned violent when Putin dispatched troops to restore order. BREAKING POINT provides a passionate and chilling look at how that uprising evolved with striking emotional insight into the psychology of mass movements. For a host of reasons, these events failed to seize the political imagination of mainstream America. In light of Donald Trump’s relationship with Putin, it’s clear we should have been paying closer attention. Nick Welsh

D. Soloveiko
1 out of 5 stars

blunt lie

March 1, 2018
Ukraine is and was a Democratic country. What's going on there is a CIVIL war: government VS civilians. Change the title - change the story.

Rob S.
5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal documentary, how a documentary should be made

March 1, 2018
I watched Mark Jonathan Harris' phenomenal documentary Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine at the Regina International Film Festival. The film was incredible. The time that Mark Harris took to gather footage, the building of the characters, the journalistic rigour, the artful story telling, the editing, the camera work, the courage of the camera crew — I now know how a documentary should be made and what it should look like. It also made me very proud, as a Canadian, to have someone like Chrystia Freeland as our Foreign Affairs Minister. This documentary clarified my worldview and raised my standards and aspirations regarding what I want to achieve in a documentary. Thank you so much for making this — I am telling — demanding — all my friends to watch this documentary. It is so important not only in terms of the breathtaking skill set that brought this film to light but also for illuminating how truly evil Putin is — and how things like rule of law and liberal democracy are worth dying for.

5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Review of BREAKING POINT from J.B. SPINS: "Very Highly Recommended"

February 28, 2018
J.B. SPINS - Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine By Joe Bendel Review: Positive monday, february 26, 2018 Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine Today, a lot of people are justly concerned about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but they do not seem particularly interested about anything that came before. Where were they in 2014 and 2015? Had America & the West responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine more forcefully, the world might look like a very different place today. Hopefully, it is not too late for Ukraine, if we finally rally to the embattled democracy. Viewers will get a field report on the state of the Ukrainian state & a step-by-step chronicle laying out how we reached this point in Mark Jonathan Harris & Oles Sanin’s invaluable Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine, which opens this Friday in New York. Democracy is a fragile thing. Ukraine won it during the Orange Revolution, only to lose it again due to the new government’s incompetence. Putin’s loyal puppet Viktor Yanukovych was duly elected president in 2010, even though everyone knew he tried to steal the election in 2004. However, that did not mean he could ignore the will of the people. When he refused to sign a trade treaty with the EU, at Moscow’s bidding, the people took to the streets. When he used violence against peaceful protesters, he lost any remaining claims to legitimacy. That is exactly what the Maidan movement was about. Russian propaganda suggested otherwise, causing doubt in Western media. In contrast, Harris & Sanin reveal the true nature of Maidan through their primary POV figures: an Afghan-born journalist & democracy activist; an investigative journalist badly beaten by Yanukovych’s thugs; a rabbi who became an officer in the volunteer Ukrainian army; & the director of a children’s theater school, who defended Donetsk Airport from Russian invaders. Russia would have us believe they were anti-Semitic militants—and the media bought their propaganda just enough to give it legs. In fact, Harris (an Oscar winner for Into the Arms of Strangers and The Long Way Home), Sanin & their expert commentators spend a good deal of time analyzing Russian propaganda. Especially galling is the actress who pops up at least 3 times pretending to be a local who duly spouts the Kremlin’s party line. Again, if the media had done their jobs properly in 2014-2015, maybe Putin would have been less inclined to meddle in other nations affairs & perhaps they wouldn’t now have to deal with Trump, who they so vociferously despise. The point is made that it is far more motivating to be for something good & noble than merely against unpalatable. Despite Ukraine’s various setbacks, Breaking Point vividly captures the idealism & resolution of the Maidan movement. Hope is not dead in Ukraine, it is just getting shelled daily by Russia. Watching this documentary confirms the strategic significance of Ukraine as a line in the sand. If it falls, it would be a decisive loss for constitutional democracy & a major victory for Soviet-style kleptocracy. Somehow, Breaking Point is both inspiring & disheartening in equal measure, but it should be required viewing for anyone who cares about the future state of the world. Very highly recommended, Breaking Point opens this Friday (3/2) in New York, at the Cinema Village. Labels: Documentary, Euromaidan, Ukraine

1 out of 5 stars

Pathetic propaganda

February 27, 2018
What democracy are you talking about? The power in Ukraine was seized by criminals controlled by their handlers in the US and Europe. These illegitimate authorities started to murder the people in Ukraine who didn't agree with the coup. 54 people were burned alive in Odessa, many more were killed in Donbass. Killed by illegitimate Ukrainian government and neo-nazis. There will be a tribunal over the bastards in Kiev! #SaveDonbassFromUrkainianArmy

5 out of 5 stars

Amazing and heartbreaking movie

February 24, 2018
It Is an amazing movie I highly recommend that you watch it , describes political environment in Ukraine

5 out of 5 stars

An epic for our time

February 24, 2018
I saw this a few months ago at a screening. As I understand it, the filmmakers started out making a documentary about the democracy movement that overthrew the pro-Russian President of Ukraine, which suddenly turned into a war documentary when Putin invaded Ukraine to avenge the removal of his puppet. One great story was about this little woman journalist who kept sneaking into the corrupt president’s palatial compound to reveal the luxuries he allowed himself while looting a poor country. His goons drove her off the road and beat her and left her for dead, but forgot to take her dash cam with them, and the harrowing footage appears in the film. Then there’s the story of a modern day “300 Spartans”, a handful of poorly supplied volunteers who held on for eight months at Donetsk Airport against overwhelming odds, until the frustrated Russians gave up trying to capture the terminal and simply collapsed it on top of them. We see one of the survivors — because he wasn’t there at the time — back at his day job, teaching elementary school.

5 out of 5 stars

True movie

February 22, 2018
It is result of russian invasion into Ukrainian government and other sectors like army, economic by bribes and threats. russians says they are brothers and sisters of Ukraine, in the same time killing Ukrainians. As well as Sirians

2 out of 5 stars


February 21, 2018
Why did not you ask the other side of the conflict? And from there everything could be removed also touchingly ! Sorry for my English.

William Volokh
5 out of 5 stars

First rate movie!

February 20, 2018
Professionally done which is appreciated! Very sad that such a movie had to be made, but now obviously important to be seen. Thank you for taking the time & putting in the effort to create this notable and compelling movie.