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Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs

Skrevet den 28-11-2017 14:15:46 af Tue Steen Müller

Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs

The location is Hnutove, Eastern Ukraine, war zone for years. A village from where - for the very same reason – many Ukrainian families have moved away. But not grandmother Alexandra and 10 year old Oleg, the main characters of this remarkable, multi-layered film. Grandmother insists on staying. In the best Danish documentary I have seen this year. A film about Childhood, about Fear, about survival, about Love. Made with love. And cinematic skills on how to build a story, compose the images and put them together with a soundtrack that stresses the atmosphere of the scenes, without killing them.

Oleg and his cousin Yarik are like kids everywhere. They do pillow fights, they fight as kids do, they are crawling around wherever

there is space to crawl, they go swimming in the river, suntanned, they jump in the beds, they wear football shirts… but their outdoor playground is different. Ruins with cartridges, mortars, unexploded mines… in sometimes a constant sound carpet of bombs and the sight of war as flashes of light on the sky. It’s an understatement to say that this constitutes a fragile childhood for the kids.

The grandmother IS love and the director, who is also the cameraman, knows how to convey that to the viewers: Oleg and grandmother walking in the snow in the beginning of the film, to visit the graveyard of Oleg’s mother. The two boys caressing granny in her bed, when she falls ill, Granny ”educating” Oleg when he comes home having shot a frog with the gun of the elder Kostya.

But granny has her worries about what will come out of this living in a war zone. There is an exceptional shot showing this, made from the room next door. She sits alone at her kitchen table looking into the air. No words, the house cat walks in. As viewer we know that the boys have been put to bed by her.  

The film is full of scenes like that – so well composed, and hurra for letting the scenes stand long to be developed, editor’s name is Michael Aaglund – that are full of childhood and scenes full of ”this is warzone”. The latter of course heartbreaking. The granny is being treated for panic attacks, Oleg expresses his fear of the war verbally, whereas the smaller Yarik reacts physically. The war is close by, but the war is also on television, they sit and watch.  

The film is shot during a year with the grandmother as the narrator – few voice-off’s compared to dialogue caught in scenes – with some ”highlights” in the story: Yarik leaves with his mother, who has fallen in love with a soldier, but comes back to grandmother… Grandmother gets ill, the kids eat sandwiches with chocolate… Oleg gets a hole in his foot…

With the help of Kostya they decide to put up new wallpaper in the corridor – the motif is a very green forest! Nice to look at, like the river near their house, the sky where you could hope the rain would come from… Real rain and not rain of bombs.

Denmark, 2017, 90 mins.

 

Tilføjet i kategorierne: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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