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ICEDOCS 2021

Alina Gorlova • Director of This Rain Will Never Stop

“I wanted to create a dream, more than anything else”

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- In her IceDocs-winning film, the Ukrainian director shows the endless circle of conflict

Alina Gorlova  • Director of This Rain Will Never Stop

Recently named the winner at the third Iceland Documentary Film Festival, Alina Gorlova’s This Rain Will Never Stop [+see also:
film review
interview: Alina Gorlova
film profile
]
– shot in black and white by Viacheslav Tsvietkov – shows Andriy, born in Syria to a Kurdish father and a Ukrainian mother. Raised in the midst of war, also the one in Donbass, he is still trying to find his way – and to see his family, scattered all over the place.

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Cineuropa: So many stories about war and refugees tend to have a rougher look, almost as if the filmmakers were afraid of “glamourising” the experience. But it’s not the case here, thanks to the black-and-white cinematography.
Alina Gorlova:
I’ve heard so many comments about this, with people saying: “We have to show the war as it is.” Which, to them, meant very cruel and rough. I understand this argument, but I was sure it was the right choice for the film – I wanted to create an experience for the viewer. No one says that war isn’t bad, but then why does it happen over and over again? Maybe it’s just a part of us, of our psyche? When we were filming, I came to the conclusion that we all need a reason: a reason to fight for something. It could be war, but it could also be love. Our life is really all about balance – good things happen, and then so do the bad things. If I am talking about war and peace, it just made sense to use black and white this time. It captures these two sides perfectly.

Andriy is an interesting person to follow because he always seems in between things: in between wars, in between identities. Is that what fascinated you, too?
At the beginning of the film, it looks like we just landed there and we are looking for someone through all of these crowds. We decide that he is interesting, and then we follow him – you understand that he is the protagonist only some 15 minutes in. At the end, we start to lose him again. He was brought up in these situations, and later, when he decided to work for the Red Cross, it was his choice, but at the same time it wasn’t. He didn’t choose his destiny, not really. He was lost in some way; he felt conflicted about his religion, for example, which is something we don’t really show in the film, but there were other crises as well. No wonder – both of his motherlands are experiencing war. We are not talking about Ukraine here, as you can go to Kyiv and not even suspect there is anything going on. But Andriy’s mother is from the Donbass region, he is from Syria, and then, to top it all, he is a Kurd. There are so many layers to this.

There is something fairy tale-like about his journey, as you don’t really provide that much information in the film. It takes a while to understand where he is heading and who it is he meets.
I feel that cinema, in general, is like a dream sometimes. If we were to add all of these captions and descriptions, it would give you more context, sure, but this film doesn’t really need it. Every once in a while, whenever I would question this approach, I would just remind myself that I always wanted to create a dream, more than anything else. I have to say that Andriy was very young when we shot this, around 20 years old. At first, it wasn’t easy for him to let us all in. We had some communication issues, and only later did we finally start to understand each other.

How do you find your way in as a filmmaker in such cases? Especially when someone shuts down on you like that?
There aren’t any magical solutions: it’s all about time. Time is a very important aspect in documentaries. You have to be open and honest, and ask yourself why you want to make this movie, actually. Why is it so important? Andriy grew up in Syria and he didn’t have that many friends at the time, and that’s why I wanted to give him all of this additional support. There was this wall between us at the beginning, and then we would just talk about his life, his relationships, everything that was going on. Which is why it’s not an observational documentary, not fully, as I don’t think there was a distance between us. Then again, is there ever? There was a discussion about Michael Glawogger’s Whores’ Glory [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, for example – is that “observational”, or not at all? In my view, you have to understand that it’s like a relationship is forming between you and your protagonist. What comes out of it can be a movie, but it can also be a friendship.

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