Young guys in Belarus look ahead to their term of military service with a sense of dread. They know what’s awaiting them in the army: they are going to be harassed, bullied and beaten by the older soldiers. Motherland shows how this culture of brutality is used to control an entire population, and how it robs the younger generation of any prospects for the future.
Svetlana’s son will never be able to tell her about his experiences as a conscript. Suicide was the official cause of death, but the wounds on his body tell a different story. To uncover the truth, Svetlana joins forces with other mothers of young conscripts who died during military service.
Nikita and his friends try to escape this oppressive reality at clandestine raves. But the party could be over at any time. Just as Nikita is drafted, demonstrations against the rigged re-election of Alexander Lukashenko break out, and he’s deployed to help crush the protests. Suddenly, he has become part of a repressive system whose only goal is to violently quash any hope for change.