This review was provided by Joshua Banman from our Open Call for Film Critics & Writers! Buy your Festival pass or individual tickets to watch both these films on GFF On Demand. Please check out Joshua’s other review of Film About a Father Who here!
dir. Iryna Tsilyk
2020 | Ukraine | 74 min.
Review by Joshua Banman
Labeled as a documentary, The Earth is as Blue as an Orange, blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction, showing us the story of Anna and her family as they make a film of their own while their city is being bombed. Their film, titled 2014, is the same documentary hybrid type film that we are watching ourselves, and it’s terribly clever because the family gives us clues as to how we should see things and what we should be looking for as they make their film.
The Earth is as Blue as an Orange is disarming in showing us the damages of war by looking through the lens of Anna and her family. That’s not to say that the meta storytelling that is happening through the family’s filmmaking overshadows the realities of war, on the contrary, everything about this film feels real. The dialogue is rich and helps inform us what we should be looking for, but it’s a testament to the performances that this never feels forceful. The family is very engaging, partly because they remain so resilient in spite of their circumstances, but also because Tsilyk has smartly compiled moments that reveal the family’s balance of vulnerability and hope. They keep playing as a way to cope through war by filmmaking, their activities, and their humour.
“The Earth is as Blue as an Orange” is beautifully shot, patiently exposing the damaged city that’s been under siege, and by doing so, the city becomes a character of its own. One of the children worries that they may “end up with a bunch of shots that don’t make sense”, but that never happens here. Each shot is purposeful and we’re shown the scars of war across a city while our characters live out their lives. The story could get lost in the damages of war, but we never get stuck there, Anna and her family don’t deny it, but they keep their focus on rebuilding.
The film is such an interesting commentary on the nature of storytelling. We see the family do more than just cope with their trauma through their film, they show us that the act of storytelling is restorative and that the hero of the story heals through their journey. So, while the family is our hero and we observe their own journey, their hero is their city and they are making use of storytelling to rebuild.
Do not miss The Earth is as Blue as an Orange. It is earnest while remaining playful, is always honest, and is as eye-opening as it is charming.