Philip Sotnychenko

Happy New Year (2018)

At the turn of the millennium, no one would have predicted the current catastrophe, but its first signs were already present. Filmmaker Philip Sotnychenko’s found footage of a New Year’s celebration in Riga evokes that period with VHS colors and motion blur and shows that all the seeds of imperial resentment already existed following the drastic transformations of Europe in the 1990s. The footage depicts an innocent party of post-Soviet couples made up of Latvian and Russian speakers. New Year’s Eve becomes an occasion to repeatedly listen to the old Soviet national anthem—and to impose Russian as the language of the group. Today, the revelers’ casual ethnic slurs and everyday sexism seem hardly innocent. Their exuberant celebration coincides with Putin’s rise to power and the first of his regime’s military conflicts, the Second Chechen War. Meanwhile, the rest of the world was cheering globalization and the advent of dot-com economies, while Putin was conveniently considered an agent of reform. Yet the fireworks of Sotnychenko’s found footage anticipate today’s explosions and drive home their meaning to our epoch at large.

Philip Sotnychenko (1989, Kyiv, Ukraine) is a filmmaker. He is a cofounder of CUC (Contemporary Ukrainian Cinema), a collective of young independent filmmakers. His short films Son, Nail, and Technical Break have all won awards at major film festivals—in total, his seven short films have been selected 350 times and won over 50 awards.

Video, 8 min.

Produced for the Armed and Dangerous project