Winter and war mean this Ukrainian children’s home near the front line is fuller than ever. The world outside is harsh and cold, but inside the atmosphere is warm. The dauntless social workers have managed to create an almost magical place, where the children wait for the government to decide their fate: Will they be returned to their parents? Will they go to a foster family? Or will they be moved to a more permanent children’s home?
The children—who have been removed from their family due to poverty, violence, alcohol abuse or a combination of all of these—are allowed to stay for up to nine months in this somewhat dilapidated temporary safe haven. We witness painful and tense situations, such as a long-awaited visit by a child’s parents, with everybody involved seemingly oblivious to the camera.
Following on from his previous feature-length film The Distant Barking of Dogs, Simon Lereng Wilmont again examines the resilience of children in conflict situations and the impact of these events on identity development. He films the most difficult of moments and presents—without judgement—the children’s sorrows, expectations and tremendous ability to adapt.