Forever-Forever / Nazavzhdy-nazavzhdy
Country: Ukraine, Netherlands Year: 2023 Running time: 107 min. Genre: Drama, Coming-of-age Director: Anna Buriachkova Cast: Alina Cheban, Zakhar Shadrin, Artur Aliiev, Yelyzaveta Tsilyk, Daria Zhykharska Language: Ukrainian with English subtitles

Set in Kyiv in the late 1990s, Forever-Forever is an unsettling portrait of the young and rebellious as they navigate love, explore their sexuality, and play cruel games, which never have a winner.

Marta Bałaga about the film:

It’s the 1990s. The very same decade everyone seems to be missing these days, bringing back forgotten fashions and boybands. Well, not everyone.

“In Ukraine, whenever I would mention the 1990s, everyone would go: ‘Ouch!’ After the Soviet regime finally collapsed, it was a wild ride,” said director Anna Buryachkova during our interview for Cineuropa, ahead of the film’s Venice premiere.

“When you are a teenager, you look for a brighter side. You want to dance, you can’t wait to start your own love story. But what if you are actually living in the dark, and everyone around you is already corrupted by it?”

Her gorgeous, conflicted protagonist, Tonia (Alina Cheban), is about to discover. She is the new girl in school, but that’s perfectly fine – Tonia could use a fresh start and would rather not dwell on the past. It never brought her anything good.

Her future seems promising, as girls want to be her and boys want to be with her badly. But even in that sad little school, with adults either absent or completely unbothered, everyone is fighting for their survival. All it takes is one misstep, and you are no longer “in,” you are out. And the cool crowd never forgets.

In Buryachkova’s engaging, surprisingly dark film, the sins of the entire country, of that whole turbulent time, suddenly crash into one teenage girl. But she fights back, right away, defending one of our principal human rights: the right to make mistakes.

Charismatic Cheban doesn’t pay one ounce of attention to the “likeable” female leads of the past or to the girls who were told their aim is to please. Her Tonia needs to learn how to like herself first and sometimes, it just has to do. In this universe, everyone is looking for love yet ends up with a nosebleed instead.

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