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IDFA 2020

Review: This Rain Will Never Stop

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- War and peace alternate in an unstoppable, painful cycle in Alina Gorlova’s new documentary

Review: This Rain Will Never Stop

This year’s International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam hosted the world premiere of Alina Gorlova’s This Rain Will Never Stop, featured in the competitive First Appearance strand. Gorlova, a Ukrainian film director and editor, completed her first feature-length documentary, Kholodny Yar. Intro, in 2016 and later worked on No Obvious Signs [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
, winner of the MDR Film Award for Outstanding Eastern Europe Movie at DOK Leipzig in 2018.

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This Rain Will Never Stop follows a twenty-something boy called Andriy, born in Al-Hasakah, Syria, to a Kurdish father and a Ukrainian mother. When Andriy was in ninth grade at school, he was forced to flee from his country’s civil war and resettle with his family in Lysychansk, a town located in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. However, the war ended up following them, as the Donbass conflict raged in 2014, shaking their lives to the core once again. In the first scenes of the piece, we see Andriy joining the Red Cross as a volunteer and putting a great deal of effort into helping the community, at the expense of his private life and ambitions.

The film was shot with astonishing black-and-white cinematography – no surprises from the brilliant Viacheslav Tsvietkov, the DoP on Irina Tsilyk’s The Earth Is Blue as an Orange [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Iryna Tsilyk
film profile
]
and Mantas KvedaravičiusParthenon [+see also:
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interview: Mantas Kvedaravičius
film profile
]
. In general, this proves to be a fitting choice, as the entire narrative revolves around grief, past traumas, and the constant feeling of displacement and solitude.

Andriy, whose family is scattered across Europe and Asia, is visibly overwhelmed and torn by the conflict between his desire to live an independent, relatively quiet life and his wish to fulfil his humanitarian duties. A tragic event will render his pursuit of happiness even more ephemeral – namely, the sudden death of his father. Andriy decides to accompany him on his very last journey back to Syria and will later find his destiny at a crossroads. Gorlova’s storytelling is eminently observational, and the shots of the places – especially the most desolate ones – are often juxtaposed with each other to strengthen the emotional turmoil and the feeling of powerlessness experienced by Andriy.

The documentary ultimately accomplishes its mission: through Andriy’s journey, viewers are made aware of the unstoppable, painful cycle of war and peace, where moments of joy are precious but short-lived. There is very little room for hope, and the movie finally leaves us with a general sensation of unease, which acts on two main levels: on the one hand, it is able to sensitise viewers to the cruel reality of the conflicts devastating Ukraine, Syria and the Kurdish minority; on the other, it dramatically brings the despair of refugees and immigrants fleeing war and hardship to the attention of the general public, “who live safe in their warm houses”.

This is certainly not the first documentary produced over the last few years to explore these delicate themes, but Gorlova provides a fresh take on it by giving prominence to the war-and-peace cycle – where the black-and-white cinematography embodies a sort of yin-and-yang stylisation – and by choosing Andriy as the protagonist of an intense (and in part alienating) parable.

This Rain Will Never Stop was produced by Ukraine’s Tabor Production, Latvia’s Avantis Promo and Germany’s Bulldog Agenda.

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