At the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) the world premiere of the film directed by Simon Lereng Vilmont and Alisa Kovalenko took place Girl Away From Home.
It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Simon Lereng Vilmont previously shot two full-length documentaries in Ukraine: “Distant Barking of Dogs” and “House of Chips”. Both of them are dedicated to children who live in a society that is constantly under threat of Russian aggression. The tape “House of Chips” was included in the list of Oscar nominees this year.
|Simon Lereng Vilmont shot two full-length documentaries in Ukraine|
Alisa Kovalenko in 2014, she shot the documentary film “Alice in the Land of War” in the fiercest points of the front in Donbas. It also premiered at the IDFA Film Festival. She was captured by the Russian invaders near Kramatorsk. Her second documentary “Home Games” (2018) won nine international awards. In February 2023, the premiere of Alisa Kovalenko’s documentary “We Will Not Extinguish” will take place at the Berlin Film Festival. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia in 2022, the director joined the Ukrainian Volunteer Army.
|After the invasion of Russia in 2022, Alisa Kovalenko joined the army|
The joint work of Kovalenko and Vilmont tells the story of 13-year-old Nastya, who lives in Kyiv. A few weeks after its team wins the rhythmic gymnastics competition, Russia launches a full-scale attack on Ukraine. Nastya is forced to flee to Germany with her grandmother.
“Now Nastya has to build a new life without her parents and friends from gymnastics. She does not know when she will be able to return to Kyiv and see her parents and friends again“, says the description of the film.
The premiere at IDFA took place on November 13. In total, five screenings of the film Girl Away From Home are planned for the festival.
In a conversation with UP. Culture Alisa Kovalenko told how the world premiere of her new work was held in Amsterdam. “A few days before the premiere, there was a sellout, all the tickets were sold out. There was a full house at the premiere. It was a very emotional premiere“, the director said.
Kovalenko noted that viewers of the IDFA festival always actively discuss the films they saw: “IDFA in Amsterdam always has a great audience. No one appears on the credits there. Most stay for the meeting with the directors. And so it was with us. Almost everyone stayed to talk about the movie after the screening. When we went on stage, the producer from Denmark, Maria, was crying, it was difficult for her to speak. It was difficult for me to speak too, I was overwhelmed with emotions. There were excellent reviews, many came up, thanked for the movie, for such a gentle sensual story“.
Girl Away From Home is part of the award-winning documentary series Children on the Silk Road by Danish production company Toolbox Film. “Each film is a portrait of a child aged 11-14 who struggles with life’s challenges, big or small, as they grow up“, Vilmont said earlier.
|A frame from the movie Girl Away From Home|
The director said that they agreed to shoot this film together with the Oscar nominee Vilmont even before the start of the full-scale war, and at the same time they shot a large part of the material. “The story was supposed to be a little different, but the full-scale war changed everything. We put the project on hold at some point. And after a few months we met and decided that it was important to finish this film. The dramaturgy, the story changed. Although it is a fairly simple film, but he’s incredibly gentle.” – added Kovalenko.
The director noted that this story is close to her, because with the beginning of the invasion of Russia, she also did not have the opportunity to see her relatives: “This is a very sensitive story for me, I feel a lot in common with it, because I also did not see my son for four months at the beginning of the full-scale war, when I went to fight. And this story is also about that. About how families are separated, how parents have not seen their children for many months“.
Kovalenko shared that at this year’s IDFA, another of her films – “We will not go out” – will be shown. “There was a Dutch premiere in the Best of Fest program, that is, these are the best festival films. This premiere also went well and received warm reviews. And even there there is such a vote by the audience and we are in the top ten films according to the audience’s ratings. By the way, “20 days in Mariupol” is currently in first place“, the director emphasized.
Read also: How to shoot a film in Lysychansk and win an Oscar: An interview with the director of “The House of Chips” Simon Lereng Vilmont