Bukovina, a Ukrainian Land (Буковина, зeмля Українськa / Bukovina, zemlya Ukrainskaya) is a 1940 Soviet propaganda documentary film. It was shot immediately after the Soviet occupation of Northern Bukovina, Hertza, and Bessarabia that year.
The film illuminates the difficult life of Bukovinian peasants and townspeople. A considerable share of the film is is devoted to the main city of the region, Chernivtsi (Чернівці) – today in Ukraine.
The documentary was directed by Alexander Dovzhenko and Yuliya Solntseva. Dovzhenko is also the creator of some of the greatest pre-WWII Soviet films, including Earth and Arsenal. Although Bukovina, a Ukrainian Land isn’t as exciting to watch as those films, it’s still interesting to view as a historical artifact.
Perhaps the most interesting component of the film is how it romanticizes the Ukrainian people. The message of the film is that Bukovina joining the Soviet Union reestablishes a centuries-long bond between this region (which was never part of the Russian Empire) and its neighbor, Ukraine. “For almost 600 years the Ukrainian people were torn apart. Bukovina was ruled over by five governments. Nevertheless, any village you observe [in Bukovina] will make you say, “This is Ukraine!””
Naturally, this sort of celebration of a distinct Ukrainian identity would be hard to find in more contemporary Russian film. For that same reason, Bukovina, a Ukrainian Land would also do well to be included in Ukraine’s cultural canon.