The last year of secondary school is a symbol for infinite expectations. Pragmatic Masha, emotionally open Yana and unshakeably indifferent Senia are best friends and classmates at a school in Kiev. From one day and one class to the next they wait: at times they are waiting for the opportunity to study, or to finally fall in love, and at others to do nothing and chat with their friends for hours. Masha is interested in her shy classmate Sasha and decides to write to him anonymously. Something has got to happen. Another classmate explains that you get goosebumps when your soul touches your body.
In her feature debut, Kateryna Gornostai fuses narrative and documentary to create an elusive symphony of young people’s sensitivity and their inner worlds. Stop-Zemlia, which won Best Film in the Berlinale Generation 14plus competition, outlines the psychological mood of today’s Ukrainian youth in the aftermath of Maidan and the events of 2014. Gornostai has created a kind of “graduating class” of 25 carefully selected teenagers with no experience of cinema or the stage with whom she developed semi-autobiographical characters together. They electrify the pale green classrooms, dispel the gloom, seek to understand their parents, fall in love, sleep over at each other’s houses, have their emotions unreciprocated, play spin the bottle, have intimate conversations and catch-me-if-you-can game rounds. All of them look forward to new beginnings.