‘Breaking Point’ reminds students the war in Ukraine is not over

Mudd Hall held the screening for “Breaking Point,” a documentary focusing on the war in Ukraine from 2014 to 2016. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) 

Warm afternoon light accompanied students’ hushed whispers ahead of the screening of “Breaking Point,” a film about the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine and the democratic revolution average Ukrainian citizens faced, at Mudd Hall Tuesday. Crossroads, a project hoping to bring together communities that are suffering due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through history, personal narratives and discussion,  hosted the event.

 Some students were unsure of what to expect going into the screening. Marcel Apatewen, a sophomore majoring in health and human sciences, noted that he had not heard of the documentary prior to the event. 

“[I am expecting a] more in-depth look about what’s going on in the country currently, what’s been happening in the country since it has been out of the major news cycle,” Apatewen said.

Elizabeth Allen, a freshman majoring in psychology, recalled lectures at her high school where students were able to learn more about the crisis in Ukraine after the war broke out earlier in 2022.

“I’m interested [in doing] the same thing here and [seeing] how it’s progressed,” Allen said. 

The documentary follows the beginning of the war in Ukraine from 2014 to 2016 and their fight for democracy through the lives of average Ukrainian people. These Ukrainians, including a theater director,  rabbi,  doctor,  reporter,  lawyer, soldier and journalist, fought the Russian invasion just after the Maidan Revolution. The struggle they face to continue their lives, in light of the invasion and revolution, changed forever as they fought to rebuild the government. The documentary follows these individuals through many issues they face, including death and destruction. 

The screening was followed by a Q&A panel with one of the directors of the documentary, Mark Jonathan Harris, an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and distinguished professor at the School of Cinematic Arts. Students were able to engage in conversation with and ask questions to Harris. 

Shwetha Rajmohan, a freshman majoring in political science and economics, was particularly distressed by the documentary because of the similar issues that were echoed today in the current Ukraine and Russia war. 

“To be in 2022, watching this 2016 documentary, and to be six years out after that with the war still having gotten worse is really discouraging and disheartening,” Rajmohan said.  “We saw a lot of bloodshed in film, and the loss of not just soldiers, but children and families, and just overall destruction. And it was just really tough to watch.”

Rajmohan asserted that she believed more students should know about Ukraine and Russia. 

“Sometimes things that are occurring in places far away can just feel far away, but when you are seeing actual war and bloodshed,  it feels a lot more real,” she said. 

The disheartening feeling was not one Rajmohan faced alone, as that feeling of sadness permeated the room throughout the screening. While the light outside Mudd Hall faded to darkness, the documentary awakened students’ minds about the need for activism to support Ukraine. 

Crossroads is continuing to hold events throughout the next semester to continue to support those affected by the war in Ukraine. To help support the Crossroads project, visit https://dornsife.usc.edu/crossroads/.