DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS

DIRECTORS: SIMON LERENG WILMONT

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 
'The Distant Barking of Dogs': Film Review | IDFA 2017, Neil Young, Nov 27, 2017

Presenting war through the "innocent eyes of a child" has been a standby of cinema alike for decades, so all credit to Danish documentarian Simon Lereng Wilmont for making his solo debut The Distant Barking of Dogs feel so memorably distinctive.

[Simon Lereng Wilmont] shows a precociously mature touch here, tracing a couple of traumatic years in the life of fresh-faced Oleg Afanasyev as he grows up amid the cacophony of artillery fire.

Lereng Wilmont sensitively dramatizes the unique pressures that come with living adjacent to a war zone, presenting the physical and psychological impacts of such an upbringing on impressionable, malleable young souls.

It's not difficult for audiences to suspend their disbelief, however, so effectively do Lereng Wilmont and his collaborators immerse us in the specifics of Oleg's quaintly bygone, alarmingly hazardous world


SCREEN DAILY
'The Distant Barking Of Dogs': IDFA Review, Fionnuala Halligan, Nov 28, 2017

“…Simon Lereng Wilmot’s moving and effective documentary follows a 10 year-old orphan over the course of one year living in the almost-abandoned town of Hnutove, minutes from the line of combat where Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces battle it out in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Lereng Wilmot’s film is a touchingly intimate story about innocents caught in a no man’s land of conflict


POINT OF VIEW MAGAZINE
Review: ‘The Distant Barking of Dogs’, Daniel Glassman, April 27, 2018

“Director Simon Lereng Wilmont’s approach, which resembles classic Terence Malick in its mix of observation with occasional poetic voiceover, always keeps the violence at a distance while focusing on Oleg and his family and the starkly beautiful landscape.”


CINEUROPA
The Distant Barking of Dogs: Childhood in a war zone, Vladan Petkovic, Nov 28, 2017

“Wilmont has crafted a beautiful, poetic observational documentary that completely stays out of politics, and focuses instead on Oleg's process of growing up and the changes that his situation brings.”


MOVEABLE FEST
Review: Echoes of Violence Shape a Young Man in “The Distant Barking of Dogs”, Stephen Saito, June 18, 2018

The film’s crisp, clean imagery serves as an expression of the innocence being lost right in front of your eyes while editor Michael Aaglund is able to condense formative experiences down to their essence without ever feeling forced.

…there’s an invigorating sense of awe throughout “The [Distant] Barking of Dogs,” not only in how skillfully Lereng Wilmont extends the wonder with which the young Oleg approaches the world to become the audience’s, but as a celebration of resilience in seeing the family carrying on, resulting in an experience that no one involved will be able to shake any time soon.


FILM PULSE
Human Rights Watch 2018: THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS Review, Adam Patterson, June 19, 2018

“Simon Lereng Wilmont brings an intimate, stirring portrayal of life during wartime in The Distant Barking of Dogs.”

“This beautifully shot, fly-on-the-wall-style documentary follows a young Ukrainian boy, Oleg, as he tries desperately to live the life of a normal boy, given the tragic and dangerous circumstances he’s forced to endure.”


MODERN TIMES REVIEW
Nordic docs looking outside the region, Aleksander Huser, March 5, 2018

“Despite the fact that the military battles are threateningly present in the background throughout the film (the title even refers to the frequent sound of shots and grenades in the not particularly far distance), The Distant Barking of Dogs focuses on recognizable aspects of being a child and the dynamics between children of different ages.”

“The director has filmed Oleg and his grandmother for a year and a half, and with his consistently observational approach, the film is impressively close to the characters.

“With atmospheric images and an eye for visual details, [Simon Lereng Wilmont] is also able to add a surprising amount of poetry to an initially gloomy film.”


COUNTERPUNCH
The 2018 Human Rights Film Festival, Louis Proyect, June 8, 2018

““The Distant Barking of Dogs”, “Naila and the Uprising” and “The Silence of Others” that are deeply humanistic treatments of people living through the real dramas of our epoch, namely the struggle to live in a free and just society.

Miraculously, Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont gives you both the joys and terror of boyhood in a war zone.

We meet Oleg early on in the film as he pays respects at his mother’s grave. From the minute we hear him, we know that we will be in the company of a exceptional 10-year old who wants nothing more than to live in peace.


EKKO
The Distant Barking of Dogs, Mikkel Krebs Behnke, March 18, 2018

Danish Simon Lereng Wilmont has created a poetic and atmospheric documentary about being a child and growing up in a place characterized by war and destruction.

“Danish Simon Lereng Wilmont (…) has nevertheless created a touching coming-of-age tale and an exciting depiction of a war we have forgotten.”

“It is [exemplary] soberly and unseenly told. Nevertheless, one can not avoid being affected. The atmosphere slowly creeps under the skin.


SOUNDVENUE
’The Distant Barking of Dogs’: A masterful Danish film about war seen through a child’s eyes, Jannie Dahl Astrup, March 20, 2018

“The film is a masterful and deeply moving tale of war seen through a child's eyes.”

“The relationship between beautiful babushka and Oleg is one of the finest things I've seen filmed for a very long time. How Simon Lereng Wilmont, who himself has stood behind the camera, has managed to slip so unnoticed into the environment that you at no time feel his presence is incredible.

“'The Distant Barking of Dogs' is by no means as brutal in its expression, but when Wilmont shows us how thin a thread everyday and the carefree childhood is in the middle of a war zone, we understand the seriousness of the situation.”


FILM IN REVOLT
Review: The Distant Barking of Dogs/SFF/Madison, Madison, June 17, 2018.

“Shot beautifully, and with excellent casting, the film lives up to the never-faltering standards of Scandinavian film, and is a definite must-see for its raw portrayals of persistence and love within such an emotionally deteriorating setting.”


FILMKOMMENTAREN
Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs, Tue Steen Müller, November 11, 2017

“...many Ukrainian families have moved away. But not grandmother Alexandra and 10 year old Oleg, the main characters of this remarkable, multi-layered film.

“In the best Danish documentary I have seen this year. A film about Childhood, about Fear, about survival, about Love. Made with love. And cinematic skills on how to build a story, compose the images and put them together with a soundtrack that stresses the atmosphere of the scenes, without killing them.