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The Kyiv Files

The former KGB archive in Kyiv was made public in 2017, allowing Ukrainians to view their personal dossiers from the Soviet era for the first time. For many older citizens, it was an opportunity to get answers to questions that had been haunting them for decades.

The film’s director Walter Stokman delved into three very different cases to make this extraordinary glimpse into the methods and reach of the Russian secret service. In one case, they set up a fake military base to capture the Dutch amateur spies Reydon and De Jager. The story of Française Regine Chivrac shows the KGB’s methods also had a paranoid aspect—while visiting family in Ukraine, she started a relationship with a student who later turned out to be an informer.

Stokman shows how the suspicion of that period echoes through the years to the present, with irreparable damage done to family relationships, a son now fighting against the Russians, and a generation of people who have been on their guard all their lives. A starring role goes to cameraman Jackó van ’t Hof’s meticulous observations in today’s Ukraine.

Selected for Frontlight at IDFA 2023