PODCAST| Matt Micucci interviews Simon Wilmont, director of the film The Distant Barking of Dogs.
To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture
Director Simon Wilmont presente his documentary feature, The Distant Barking of Dogs, at the 30th Internatioal Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The film talks about ten-year-old Oleg, living in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine: a warzone. Wilmont was inspired to tell this story after making two shorts about children from more relatively safe worlds, and wondering about places in which children live with danger all the time. As he says in this interview, he wondered: “how does a child who lives in a very dangerous environment find some kind of peace.” He was drawn to Oleg because he was really taken by the way he was “so good at putting words to his feelings.” The film also has a lot of love, and in trying to understand how he was able to achieve such an intimate portrait, we find out that the project could have been jeopardised by a curious rumour about them – “the foreigners” coming into the village. The Distant Barking of Dogs also looks at war in a very compelling way, and the impact it may have on a child: “at this age, you have some kind of inkling that the world I’m living in is dangerous and that something bad can happen. But at this age, it is also characteristic to not linger on such things because there are so many things that capture your imagination.” Finally, we also talk about Oleg’s grandmother, who is also a protagonist in the film, and the reason why she refuses to leave the region, among other things.
The Distant Barking of Dogs: Ten-year-old Oleg lives in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine – a warzone that often echoes with anti-aircraft fire and missile strikes. Sometimes these sounds are in the distance, while other times they’re frighteningly close. At school, Oleg learns about the bomb shelter and what to do when encountering a landmine. While many have left this dangerous area, Oleg remains with his grandmother, who has taken care of him since the death of his mother. This observational film follows a year in the life of Oleg and emphasizes the warm bond he has with his grandmother. He also has a close friendship with his cousin Yarik, who’s more disturbed by all the sudden noises – or perhaps he’s not as good as Oleg at hiding his fear. Meanwhile, the boys also find the war exciting, especially when a neighbor teaches them how to use a gun. By sticking close to Oleg, The Distant Barking of Dogs shows the effect of conflict on children.