DIY Country

Antony Butts

From the vibrant heart of the revolution in the city of Donetsk, in the southeast of Ukraine, this documentary follows the messy creation of a country. The camera shows up close and personal how pro-Russian separatists fight a battle for independence. What started with a referendum soon turns into full-fledged civil war.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a pro-Russian rebellion spread rapidly across the southeast of the country. In DIY Country we can see from an eerily close perspective how separatists, secretly supported by Russia, try to declare independence for the city of Donetsk and the surrounding area.

The filmmaker follows a number of shady figures during the first months of this revolution and shows openly how they operate on the road to their own state. Each of them have their own personal agenda and little qualms about circumventing the rules of democracy. We see the rebels openly discuss how they want to rig vote-counting in the referendum (it turned out '89 per cent in favour') and see them frighten and threaten young people carrying innocent pro-Ukraine stickers. What started with a referendum soon turns into full-fledged civil war. It is frightening to see how these rebels take more pleasure in playing at war than working towards building a new democratic state. It is just as easy to get weapons on the street as it is to get groceries from the supermarket.

While the situation turns increasingly grim and violence flares, it becomes clear that there is no unity amongst the rebels either. Most of them have no clue what they are doing. A year later, the filmmaker returns to see what has become of the revolution. He discovers a militarised police state which leaves no room for dissidents or freedom of speech.

Text: Annika Wubbolt


Antony Butts
Country of production
France, United Kingdom
81 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Artline Films