Iryna Tsilyk’s documentary, The Earth Is Blue As An Orange, couldn’t be more timely or relevant. Less than ten years ago, the town of Krasnohorivka, nestled on the eastern border of Ukraine, was on the front lines of a conflict with Russia. Krasnohorivka was inundated with bombings and the chaos of war.
At the center of the feature is the story of the Trofymchuk-Gladka family. Single mother Anna and her four children live in the war-sieged town, and Anna decides to keep her children in Krasnohorivka rather than flee to safety. She’s been able to turn her home into a safe haven and make the best of a difficult situation as she stands in line for food and deals with the spotty electricity and water situation.
Shot as cinéma vérité, The Earth Is Blue As An Orange exists as a fly-on-the-wall of Anna’s family and follows their day-to-day living, all of whom have a passion for cinema. Daughter Anas decides to make a film about her family’s experience living in their war-torn town. Watching them evokes a great deal of sympathy for Anna and her children. You’re going to think, “glad it’s not me,” and quickly regret saying it because it is genuinely happening right now.
“…Anna and her four children live in the war-sieged town, and Anna decides to keep her children in Krasnohorivka rather than flee to safety.”
The prime mission of The Earth Is Blue As An Orange is to show us what it’s like to be a family in the middle of a warzone. The documentary opens with the family’s reaction to a nearby mortar explosion. While filming the family interviews for Anas’ movie, we feel the sadness in their mother’s words, who questions whether staying in the city was the right idea. At the same time, life goes on. Anna and Anas board a train in hopes that Anas will not only gain acceptance into university to become a cinematographer but win a scholarship as well.
The majority of the runtime, though, is about Anas’ movie. With her family, including her grandmother, Anas’ film is a slightly fictionalized version of life for them now. Anas and Anna argue about whether she should take a panoramic shot of the city or run with a static shot. The most riveting moments are when the children are giving talking-head testimonials. For most of them, this is the first time they’ve been genuine and honest about how the war has affected them emotionally and psychologically.
The Earth Is Blue As An Orange is probably one of the most unique documentaries about filmmaking ever. Director Iryna Tsilyk is described as an artist, and she hauntingly captures the contrast between the safety within the walls of the family’s home and the destruction found on the streets outside. You’d be crazy to want to live this way, but the Trofymchuk-Gladka family has to do just that every day. Though it was shot over five years ago, the timing of its release is more than a coincidence.
For more information, visit The Earth Is Blue As An Orange‘s official website.
"…show us what it’s like to be a family in the middle of a warzone."