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Fantasia Film Festival 23' "Stay Online" - movie review

Possibly the most daunting thing of the last year is the war between Russia and Ukraine. Every day we sit from afar watching like some weird voyeur of a reality show based on peril. A potential glimpse of what things may look like from inside the battle lines is the latest feature from Yeva Strielnikova, STAY ONLINE. Captivating and unflinching STAY ONLINE paints a meek picture of hope for one young woman trying to reunite a family.

Intensity is the name of the game from the start. In STAY ONLINE you are introduced to Liza. A young firey volunteer with a penchant for online hate and accessibility. Some of the things she does in the film really question her well-natured manner. Once we meet Saka we can see why the intention to help the child is executed. The only issue is being inside an area with air raid sirens and bodies everywhere usually dismantles hope. Still, through an almost Rob Savage-like screen experience, we watch this story unfold.

It is possible that some fans will never accept this Black Mirror approach to storytelling. It stands to reason why it's so popular because these are the devices we use every day. To see their engagement during a war is something on a completely different level. I'm personally a fan of the style and I think STAY ONLINE is one of the more solid entries into the genre. There is a blending of chaos and technology that keeps you glued to the first and latter portions of the film. Like most features, there is a bit of soul-searching going on, and honestly, the trailer is false. When you see the marketing for STAY ONLINE it showcases a story of triumph and prevail. I'm curious as to what the viewers think once they really see how Liza's character evolves. There were moments in the film where I felt she was just as cruel as the events surrounding her.

STAY ONLINE should be pretty well received. Unfortunately, that doesn't always lead to tons of eyes on the film. In a distracted society many don't even conceive that the war is still going on. They don't follow headlines and everything is fake news. For the people living in these situations, it is entirely different and should be shown globally. If only for the greater good of our own consciousness.



STAY ONLINE (**World Premiere**)

Director: Eva Strelnikova

Writers: Anton Skrypets, Eva Strelnikova

Cast: Elizaveta Zaitseva, Oleksandr Rudynskyy, Hordii Dzuibynskyi, Roman Liakh, Oleksandr Yarema, Olesya Zhurakivska, Yevhen Kovyrzanov, Iryna Tamim, Ekaterina Kisten

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