Olga is the first feature film by the French director based in Switzerland, Elie Grappe. It tells the story of the torments of a young Ukrainian gymnast forced by the revolution to go into exile in order to continue her training in Switzerland for the European Championships and the Olympic Games. She finds herself torn between her ambition and the future of her country and her city, Kyiv, where her journalist mother is covering the events.
The director explains his aesthetic choice for the representation of Euromaidan as follows: "For me, Euromaidan is a particularly interesting revolution to observe: the demonstrators were of all political persuasions and all social strata. In such a fractured society, it was an unprecedented show of solidarity. To represent it, I used only videos taken by the demonstrators themselves, with their phones and in the middle of the event. I was caught by the intensity, the presence of bodies in these images, which translate a collective urgency to show.
For Elie Grappe, it is a question of representing the effect produced by history on the young Olga who fights to improve her technique and at the same time finds herself distraught in the face of the revolution. It is the tension between the will to power through sport and the powerlessness in the face of history that drives this film.
Bruno Deruisseau for Les Inrockuptibles applauded "the excellent performance of debutante actress Nastya Budiashkina" as well as the narrative density of the film.
Télérama praised an ode to adolescence, "a magnificent burst of youth".
Maroussia Dubreuil for Le Monde paid tribute to the intelligence of the film and its formal virtuosity, which is "found, with the lights off, in the chalky face of its heroine".
Sandra Onana in the pages of Libération underlines the charm and appeal of this film: "You don't see so many muscular teenage films (and teenage girls), which shun the ethereal picture book and the delicacy of vestals. We let ourselves be sucked into Olga a little by chance, like when we stop watching the Olympic events on TV”.
Ariane Allard in Positif sees it as a powerful film.
The film received several awards, including the SACD Prize at 60th Semaine de la Critique of the Cannes Film Festival 2021, and the Swiss Film Prize 2022 as best feature film, best screenplay and best sound.
Anastasia Budiashkina is also a gymnast and used to perform in a circus before the war. She is originally from Luhansk in Donbass and the separatist takeover forced her to leave her hometown in 2014.
Libération went to interview her at the beginning of March 2022 about the current conflict. She has been living in Kharkiv with three artists from her troupe. She said: "They are bombing in different ways, from near and far, it is too dangerous to flee the country at the moment. The roads are broken. I didn't know what war was until I saw the Maydan revolution in 2014 on TV. This is my second war and I don't want it anymore."
Her dreams? "My plan is still to work in the circus. I've drawn a future for myself, I'll try to move towards it. I want a house of my own, for my children to live in abundance and not complain about anything. I really want to live abroad, it's been my dream since I was little. I told my grandmother and my mother that I will live in England and have a huge white house with two floors. I'll take them there."
Since this interview, Anastasia has been able to leave Kharkiv and found shelter in Switzerland.
The film trailer
See it on VOD
Universciné : https://www.universcine.com/films/olga
Interview with Elie Grappe at the Cannes Critics' Week :
Interview with Elie Grappe at the Critics' Week for Le mag cinema :
Interview of Elie Grappe at the Brussels International Film Festival ;
Debate on the film organised by the Lyon-Ukraine association: