Misha, a young woman, attends a party where she finds herself falling in love with a talented and mysterious DJ due to his captivating music. However, as Misha gets to know him better, she begins to notice unsettling changes in his behaviour that raise concerns. She starts perceiving the world around her in a more realistic light. Where DJ is actually a dark figure with an abusive behaviour.

In a separate scene during a dinner party that Misha is hosting, two individuals engage in a heated argument after seeing news on their phones. They express bold statements about social media brainwashing and the cost of human freedom, although the exact reason for their conversation remains unclear at first.

Misha silently listens to their exchange, and suddenly, something in their conversation triggers her. As one of the individuals delves into political matters, she begins to draw parallels between her romantic relationship with the DJ and how government manipulates and brainwashes people, similar to how the DJ manipulates her. She realises that just like the oppressive government with the nation, the DJ is manipulating and controlling her.

This realisation leads Misha to make a hard decision and break free from the DJ’s grip. However, at the very end Misha is dancing to the DJ’s music alone as a sign of accepting his beautiful music but not himself.

Director’s Vision for ‘Nieb’

“NIEB” holds a deeply personal significance for Valentina Khodnevich, serving as a poignant metaphor that skillfully parallels the dynamics of oppressive governments and abusive relationships.

Over the past couple of years, Ukraine has endured the hardships of war and Russian aggression, while the Russian government has portrayed these actions as a “special operation,” obscuring the truth of war crimes. This has led to a rift between the two nations, fracturing familial and social bonds. Many Ukrainians and Russians who opposed the war have been forced to flee, losing connections to their homes, loved ones, and identities. This upheaval has prompted a soul-searching journey for many Russians, as they confront their beliefs and allegiances.

Through “NIEB,” Khodnevich aims to capture the disillusionment of being part of something initially revered, only to realize its flaws. The experience of being Russian in this tumultuous time echoes the dynamics of an abusive relationship, where one is enamoured and blinded by affection, thereby unable to objectively assess the reality of the situation.