The world premiere of Simon Lehren Wilmont’s “A House Made of Splinters” took place at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie received the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award – the prize for the best director in the international competition program of documentary films.
The war in eastern Ukraine is doing great damage to families living near the front line. The film tells about life in the Lysychansk Center for Psycho-Social Rehabilitation, where a group of social workers is trying to create a safe environment for children to live, while government agencies and courts decide the future of the child and his family.
“I hope to draw attention not only to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, but also to the long-term, less visible consequences for children and families living there. So with this movie, I wanted to show both the ruthless consequences and the friendship and resilience of these children”
– says the film’s director Simon Lehren Wilmont.
“Shooting of this movie was perhaps the most difficult for me in emotional sense. Because every day you watch children from disadvantaged families, families with alcohol and drug abuse problems, and difficulties they face. Simon is a director with perhaps the most sensitive heart. He cared about every detail during the filming and, like a sponge, absorbed children’s stories and pain. Several times during the filming, I saw him crying while holding a camera”
– says Azad Safarov, line producer and the second director of the film.
Film is the most effective way to convey this information to both the people and the authorities. And we have the right tools to do it. We have been providing psychological assistance to children in boarding schools for a year now, including the heroes of this film.
You can learn more and help us here: https://voices.org.ua/programs/mobilni-psykholohy/
“Luhansk region has been divided by the front line for more than six years. The situation in Lysychansk, where we shot the film, is largely typical of other cities in eastern Ukraine. Businesses and mines were closed, followed by high unemployment, social unrest and problems related to hostilities”
– says Olena Rozvadovska, head of the Children’s Voices Charitable Foundation and local coordinator of the picture.
“We filmed in an orphanage where children of different ages are staying. They all have different characters and stories that brought them there. Once in the institution, children experience loss. And it doesn’t matter what kind of family they have. Parents will always be good for the child. By protecting them, they protect themselves. Sisters and brothers are often separated in different boarding schools and this is a huge trauma for everyone. For a while, children find themselves under one roof, living their pain and becoming a support to each other. We filmed these stories, both weaknesses and examples of strength. I hope that the film will once again bring us all the long-known truth: every child needs a family.”
“This is a delicately observed film that affords its subjects empathy and respect. “Splinters” may sound unbearably bleak on paper, but this is truly a story of hope” POV Magazine writes. In general, the film garnered an incredible number of positive reviews in the foreign press. IndieWire, Variety, Film Fest Report and many others have written about the film.
[“House Made of Splinters”]… evokes deep sorrow, anger and despair. A motion picture of great emotional power, shot in the intimate space of an orphanage in Ukraine” said Mehdi Balamissa of Film Fest Report on his Twitter account.
The film is a co-production of four countries: Denmark (producer Monica Hellstrom / Final Cut for Real), Sweden (producer Tobias Janson / STORY), Finland (producer Sami Jahnukainen / Donkey Hotel) and Ukraine (producers Daria Bassel and Vika Khomenko / “Moon Man”).
The picture became one of the winners of the Fourteenth Competitive Selection of the State Cinema of Ukraine. In general, production was made possible by the support of the following institutions: Danish Film Institute, Danish Film Directors, Swedish Film Institute, Finnish Film Institute, IMS, State Agency of Ukraine for Cinema, AVEK, Nordic Film & TV Fund, Creative Europe: TV Programming, ARTE, MDR, BBC, DR, SVT, Yle, VPRO and others.