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‘This is a religious and spiritual war. God is on our side, that’s for sure.’
The Russian motorcycle club the Night Wolves first made international headlines in 2014, fighting as a paramilitary group alongside pro-Russian forces during the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Although the Night Wolves formed as an anti-Soviet countercultural group during perestroika, today they’re sometimes called ‘Putin’s Angels’, having embraced the potent mix of Orthodox Christianity, nationalism, hypermasculinity and Soviet nostalgia that drives the Russian president’s base.
Produced in 2015, this short film follows several Night Wolves living in rebel-held Luhansk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. There in support of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a breakaway, pro-Russian proto-state, the roughly 50 group members train with weapons, ride flag-draped Harley-Davidsons through the streets, romanticise the Soviet past, and dream of future glory. Skilfully observed, the documentary by the UK directors Jack Losh and Sebastien Rabas is at once a singular glimpse into the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and a powerful study of the forces that drive ultranationalism.
Sex and sexuality
What does the Dutch model of comprehensive, ‘shame-free’ sex-ed look like?
Film and visual culture
A Palme d’Or-winning animation toys with the way our eyes perceive light
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
What can a Kurosawa classic tell us about reality, knowledge and truth?
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
Animals and humans
A bluesy ballad tells the story of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in the US
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design
Meaning and the good life
To know or not to know? Lillian weighs the costs of a life-changing genetic test