Ukraine: row over Russian film The Brother
The films The Brother and The Brother 2 by Russian director Alexei Balabanov, made in 1997 and 2000 respectively, are now available on Netflix and have triggered fierce debate in Ukraine. The main protagonist insults blacks, Caucasians and Ukrainians, provoking angry reactions from viewers. At the same time, pro-Russian forces are alienated by Netflix's decision to describe extreme right-wing Ukrainians with a vague, intransparent term in the film's subtitles.
Racist Kremlin propaganda
Such a racist film should not be shown on Netflix, writes the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, part of Ukraine's Ministry of Culture, on ukrinform.ua:
“How can a service that claims to be democratic, multicultural and tolerant of national and sexual minorities screen one of the most chauvinistic Russian films? ... Balabanov's films are propaganda. An instrument of the Kremlin's 'soft power', they are a vehicle for an imperial world view. Balabanov's hero is a patchwork image of a Russian, while his enemies are representatives of other peoples. ... These films resemble another 'masterpiece' of political propaganda - the 1915 American film The Birth of a Nation, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan.”
New label, same old accusation
Strana.ua wonders at Netflix's decision to refer to the supporters of the deceased Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera as Banderites instead of as Nazi collaborators in the subtitles, as it had done previously:
“Whereas before, English-speaking viewers had a chance of understanding what the conflict was, now they miss the whole point of this passage, as most people have never heard of 'Banderites'. ... The change in the subtitles can hardly be described as a victory [for Ukraine], where from the very beginning the Banderites have been called fascists. ... Now it's said that the term comes from Stepan Bandera, 'the head of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, which was founded in 1929 as an association of movements to which the Ukrainian fascists also belonged'.”