Tamara Stepanyan films her characters with warmth, asks questions with respect and out of curiosity… words picked from the review of ”Embers” written more than 6 years ago on this site, link below. A true documentarian she is.
Her latest film, premiered at DOK Leipzig 2019, can be characterised by the same words. She has gained the trust of the women in the film… as well as the old men, who live in the village while their sons, the husbands of the women, the fathers of the children we meet in the film, work in Russia to come home only for the winter.
It is so obvious, why she has gained that trust. She has been there (the village is Lichk) for a long time: All seasons are in the film. But time is not enough, you also have to be caring and attentive – and a good filmmaker, to frame in the right way, to make the pauses when needed, and to let us viewers into a world of hard work for the women, in the fields, at home, in the kitchen baking bread.
Yes, there is sadness in the film, when the talk is about the poor living conditions, but there are also joyful moments around tables with food and drinks and songs that reflect the lives they lead.
Characters, there are many with a focus on… the often crying woman, whose husband has not been home for years, he stays in Russia with their son and grandson. Maybe he will come home to stay? There is the woman – in a wonderful scene – who suggests that her husband has affairs, while he is in Moscow. There is the woman, who sits there in the sofa with her husband, a shining couple, while he is at home. The husband who is also a boxing trainer when he is at home. All women live in arranged marriages if I got it right.
… and there is dancing, full of grace and elegance, in front of the television set – they all have television, the outside world – do you mind that I dance, she says to Tamara Stepanyan in front of a music program, in the room where two kids are already asleep.
Thank you Tamara for coming here to show the world, how we live, one of the old men say. I can only second that; I am happy to have visited a village through an open-minded and skilled director/cinematographer. And happy to see the director thanking the village women at the end of the film – for their generosity and openness.
Armenia/France, 2019, 92 mins.