Speaking directly to the camera, teenagers from a school in Ukraine’s Donbass region share their innermost hopes, fears, desires and memories in this heartfelt documentary. While the war between Russia and Ukraine is never mentioned, it forms an unspoken epicentre around which individual stories coalesce. Co-directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Yelizaveta Smith and German theatre director Georg Genoux, School Number 3 was developed in parallel with a live theatre performance also created with students from the school.
The pared down monologues brim with sincerity and emotion as we listen to a generation whose lives have been directly affected by the war, but who we are not accustomed to hearing from in the global media, tell their stories. By collecting these individual, subjective narratives and providing them with a voice, Smith and Genoux challenge the abounding stereotypes – specifically of eastern Ukraine – that cling to this ongoing conflict and give us an opportunity to witness the country’s crisis anew.
School Number 3 was awarded the Grand Prix for Best Film in 2017 Berlinale’s Generation 14plus.