Almost Holy ★★★½

For several years, Gennadiy Mokhnenco has been the embattled pastor of the Pilgrim Republic, an Orthodox church devoted to saving street children in Mariupol, Ukraine. This often inspiring documentary follows the crusading pastor as he energetically pursues his quasi-political ministry, culminating with his battle against the potential Russian takeover of his city. But the meat of the documentary is Gennadiy's struggle to save the kids...from abusive, drunken parents, from drug dependency, and from the gamut of deprivations of a society in ruin. For all the importance of the message, the film itself is organized somewhat confusingly, centering the narrative around a cautionary speech Gennadiy is giving to a group of female prisoners while cutting away to specific stories of needy children presented non-chronologically. Still, the images and stories are powerful indictments of the Ukrainian status quo; and Gennadiy is an authentic hero.