In 1988, an earthquake killed at least 25.000 people in the Armenian city of Gyumri, a third of them children. Jana Ševčíková explores life after and with the disaster, meets survivors and their children. The latter, born after the incident, are often regarded by their parents as reincarnations of their dead siblings. Ševčíková, however, does not see them as proof of some primitive faith in reincarnation, nor does she ever fall prey to esoteric exaggeration. She takes her protagonists very seriously, showing how differently they cope with the double burden of their own and those strangers’ unlived lives. Although the dead are not just addressed directly in short messages, but are also present in all statements and images, Ševčíková manages first and foremost to endow the living with individuality. Again and again we see them dance, self-absorbed and free of the burden of responsibility for a few moments. By means of sparsely used archive material, a meticulously executed soundtrack, bizarre images of life among the ruins and very intense encounters, the film creates an almost unreal atmosphere somewhere between bottomless grief and the banality of daily life which simply goes on – even in a city where memory is part of everyone’s daily business, which got stuck between life and death 20 years ago.
Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.