Steve Hoover’s documentary, Almost Holy, offers a stark reflection on a broken social and political system, amidst the fragility of democracy. Centring on Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko’s work with drug-addicted children and the marginalised in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the film looks beyond Ukraine’s confinement as a news story.
Mokhnenko channels the individual’s propensity to galvanise a collective around social proactivity, succeeding where the political system fails. Yet his world is part of a wider one, whose past lay eastward, and whose European Union versus Russian Federation future has been the catalyst for division. Eastern Europe has long been defined by struggle and Hoover effectively casts Soviet Russia as a malevolent spirit turned reincarnated antagonist. The broken society Mokhnenko works to fix stirs one’s emotions and perceptions.
Meanwhile, the meditation on war, and the struggle to escape from the past, offers a thematic thoughtfulness to the film. If Dostoyevsky’s novels acted as inspiration, then within its own scope, Almost Holy inspires contemplation.
Almost Holy is available now from Curzon Artificial Eye.
1. Still from Steve Hoover’s Almost Holy. (2015) Courtesy of Curzon Artificial Eye.