Living in Nyon will be at Visions du Réel over the next seven days and will be reviewing and recommending films shown at the festival.
The family in the photograph below are the ancestors of the filmmaker Peter Entell who emigrated from Ukraine to the U.S at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a haunting look in the family’s eyes, and a sadness that over a century later Entell shows still continues in the lives of many Ukrainians today. Entell travels to the country to find the village where his grandparents were from and in so doing discovers more than a family history, he finds himself in the middle of a battlefield and in a war zone.
The film opens with the sight and ear blasting sound of armaments being fired, followed by the cheering of soldiers. Immediately we are abruptly and shockingly transported straight into modern day Ukraine, to the potholed roads, to the run-down apartment blocks and to the image of a woman crying over dead bodies lying on the ground. The sombre music sets the scene. Entells asks a soldier “There is so much suffering here, so much fighting, so many conflicts here in Ukraine – why?”. The soldier sighs deeply, he has no answer. A father in Kiev talks to his sons after they visit a shrine for citizens who have been killed in the conflict, and he laments “unfortunately son, the terror continues”. Entell passes security check points, he films soldiers in their daily lives preparing for battle, and that battle. A story of the current conflict emerges.
In the hunt for his relatives, Entell continues to travel around the country, he delves into archives, and with some help and an interpreter, he painstakingly goes through the files of the Jewish people who fled from the Ukraine in 1814.
A few years ago, Jean Perret, the previous director of Vision due Réel said that for one week the world comes to Nyon through the medium of film. In Like Dew in the Sun we are indeed thrown in to another world of the lives of the people on Entell’s journey, from the modest home of a gold-toothed woman serving tea as her husband tells stories of the war in his childhood, to the harrowing scenes of soldiers today being captured and the fear in their eyes as they await their fate. We see lovely limestone rocks and cliffs in Bakhtchyssarai, a city in central Crimea, sunflower fields en route, beautiful blues and turquoises of the wooden homes in small villages, and bright traditional costumes on the local women. The women sing but the world we see most of is darkness, fighting, sadness and conflict.
The soldier at the start of the film tells the filmmaker “It’s important to know your history and relatives”. Sadly the history that the filmmaker discovers is a tragic one but an important story that needs telling. A powerful and moving film.