Title: The Distant Barking of Dogs
Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont
Starring: Oleg Afanasyev
Runtime: 1hr 13min
What It Is: In this documentary, we follow a motherless ten-year-old boy, Oleg, who lives with his grandmother. The pair are forced to stay in their East Ukraine village during the terror of war, due to having nowhere else to go. We see the terror of war through the eyes of a child anticipating the destruction of his home as he comes to wholly understand the concept of death and war.
What We Think: This movie must have been terrifying to film. As much as we do see the creeping anxiety and fear that plagues this little boy and his grandma as they are constantly berated by the sounds of bombs exploding in nearby territories, the same must apply to the crew, and to that, I commend them. Within this gently-filmed documentary is an important history; an intimate profile of Oleg’s childhood and innocence ebbing away as his persistence to be prepared for the worst its toll. It weighs heavy, seeing one light-hearted moment as the cameraman chases playful children running about, to watching Oleg tend to his mother’s grave or go nervous when he hears the bombs crashing, paranoid that the war will come for him. The feeling of loss weighs heavy and, by God, is it bitter to taste.
Our Grade: B, Important to watch to help one understand what it is to be living helplessly under the threat of war in this day and age. Beautifully filmed though at times a tad slow in the pacing, this documentary manages to capture rare moments of color and hope within the cold isolation of the village, as well as the persistence of innocence despite the swollen potential of destruction and violence.