The only film from Ukraine, A House Made of Splinters, co-produced by Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, became a contender for the Oscar Award in the Best Documentary Feature nomination. The American Film Academy noted this on its website on January 24, 2023.
The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2022. It is the second film directed by Simon Lereng Vilmont, which was filmed in Ukraine. The Voices of Children Charitable Foundation became a partner in the creation of the film. Ukrainian co-producer is the Moon Man company.
In the center of the plot is a poignant story of three children temporarily separated from their parents. Waiting for the solution as to their fate, Eva, Sasha and Kolya find friendship and glimmers of hope in the old walls of the Lysychansk orphanage near the active combat areas in the east of Ukraine. And a group of strong-willed social workers creates a safe space for children and gives moments of peace-of-mind and happiness.
In A House Made of Splinters, there was neither script, nor rehearsals, not even takes.
There was just me, the camera, and my assistant. So, it became easier for the children to develop confidence and be themselves. They often forgot that we were there and just lived their lives.Simon Lehring Wilmont
In the course of two years, 245 hours of footage were filmed. The film included only 1.5. And during this hour and a half, the filmmakers managed to honestly show the children living between the two wars. Between the war that Russia began and the war that goes on daily in their homes because of the indifference of their parents.
Thanks to Olena Rozvadovska, co-founder of the Voices of Children Foundation, all the doors to the children’s world were opened for the film crew. It was thanks to her advice and support that the directors were able to become “their people” for the children.
The sincerity of the filming was also noted by critics. The Guardian writes that children dance, play and comb dolls’ hair as if there is no camera. And Variety calls A House Made of Splinters an exquisitely intimate film, where the camera, along with the children, quietly observes their touching period of uncertainty.
Of course, this is a pleasant event for Ukraine. And yet, it is not so much the Oscar winning that is important, but the opportunity for the voices of Ukrainian children to be heard throughout the world. To make them loud. To draw attention to the problems of childhood during the war. And most importantly, to give a chance to the children of Ukraine for a decent and safe life.Azad Safarov, assistant director and line producer of the film, as well as the co-founder of the Voices of Children Foundation.
Thanks to one of the closed shows, the film changed the fate of the hero – a teenager Kolya was adopted by a family that was struck by his difficult story.
It was during the filming of A House Made of Splinters that Ukrainian documentary filmmaker Azad Safarov and human rights activist Olena Rozvadovska created the Voices of Children Charitable Foundation in 2019, which provides psychological support and individual humanitarian aid to families, works with communities and institutions for children throughout the country.
Earlier, the Foundation team worked as volunteers and since 2015 organized psychological support to children affected by the hostilities.
A House Made of Splinters has already won a number of awards:
- 2021 — Best Director’s Work in the World Documentary category (Sundance Independent Film Festival, USA);
- 2022 — The Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary (Gothenburg Film Festival, Sweden);
- 2022 — “Golden Alexander” for the Best Documentary Film (Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece);
- 2022 — FIPRESCI Prize (Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece).
And already on March 12, 2023, at the 95th Oscar Awards ceremony, the film will compete for the statuette in Los Angeles. Therefore, we wish A House Made of Splinters to win.