Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memories and War

Mayak (2006) - Saakyan
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Lena (Anna Kapalena) comes back to her hometown, a small mountain town in war torn Armenia. The electricity is scarce, gunfires and military helicopters are heard day and night. Lena can't convince her grand parents to leave with her and go to Moscow. And the train station is swamped with people trying to leave but no trains are coming.

Mayak is a simple story: a young woman comes home, sees the devastation of war and leaves. But in this semi-biographical film taking place in 1990s Caucasus conflict, director Maria Saakyan lets stunning cinematography do the talking. In its dreamlike opening as Lena wakes up on the train and walking into the fog, her hometown in the mountains is like a time trapped mirage. Lena gets to enjoy her past life- gets drunk on the dinner table and shoots off a dresser by mistake. But the reality of war is near by- neighbors die, a helicopter swoops in, trains never stop.

Saakyan prefers non-chronological approach and includes documentary footage of the conflict and flight of the refugees. It's deeply moving, poetic contemplation of memories and war.