Tribeca Movie Review: A Story Of People In War & Peace

The following movie was reviewed at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

A Story of People in War & Peace

A Story of People in War & Peace

World Documentary Competition

2006, Armenia

Dir: Vardan Hovhannisyan

In 1994 a truce was arrived at between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan, ending a bloody confrontation that had swept both nations after the fall of the Soviet Union. These two former satellites of the Soviet empire were newly independent and both desperate to claim land they both believed pertained to them. During the war, photojournalist Vardan Hovhannisyan followed a small platoon of men, and one female nurse, through their harrowing ordeal. Twelve years later and Vardan realizes that the memory of the incidents is slowly being forgotten by the younger generations. The reasons why the war was fought are being disregarded and overlooked.

So Vardan retraces his links to his fellow soldiers and decides to search for them so as to gain a better comprehension of what they as a people lost and won as a consequence of the war. He wants to see how his fellow men live in peace, opposed to how they lived in war. What he encounters is beyond him. He finds one of the men had an ugly divorce from his wife and is now on bad terms with his children. Another one of the men is in jail, and still another is locked up in a mental institution, haunted by nightmares of the battlefield.

He is able to converse with every member of his unit, and comes to the startling realization that not only were these people victims of war, but they were also victims of peace. The stories of unquantified loss are tear-filled and confoundedly real, as each person struggles with the recollection and retelling of the events during the war. Yet, with such a horrible moment of time burned into their minds, all the soldiers continue to foster a great love for their country and retain ultimate pride in having fought for their nation. For them, it was an honor to serve their homeland, and no matter how many hard times they face, they will never forget that.

The film is short and concise. It knows what its aims are and accomplishes them thoroughly. But perhaps it is a bit too short. As soon as you start caring for the men and women interviewed and establishing some emotion for their agony, they are gone. The film leaves one with the up-close knowledge of a horrible event, yet leaves the person as detached as it did before it had been shown. But then again, Vardan maybe realized that this subject was too hard to dig up and that making his fellow Armenians remember those days of combat and upheaval was something quite difficult, but at the same time utterly necessary.

/Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10