I'm immersed in Auckland's International Film Festival. Prepare yourself for reviews and critiques. To begin I want everyone to go see this movie.....
Watchers Of The Sky
If movies were gems, then Watchers of the Sky is a diamond. The film is about Raphael Lemkin who was nominated 7 times for the Noble Prize for Peace without success. He was born at the beginning of last century and suffered the fate of so many European Jewish people’s horrific tribulations, but survived. He spent the rest of his life attempting to convince the international community to specially prosecute crimes against humanity and coined the word genocide. His work in the movie is paralleled by that of 4 living modern-day champions of justice. The audience is taken through a compelling journey of the last 100 years of mass ethnic, religious and political exterminations. We cover ground from Nuremburg to Rwanda, from Bosnia to Dafur – as well as visits to the United Nations and more. The session I attended was sparsely populated as obviously this is not a topic many wish to reflect upon.
And yet as horrible as the content was, this movie was uplifting and deeply beautiful. We were not spared the crimes committed or the footage of evidence. Yet this film is art at its best. The belief in and perseverance of the human spirit shone through such nerve-wracking material. I left the cinema feeling subdued but not overwhelmed. It has affected my thinking profoundly.
Apparently the movie was a decade in the making and assembled from 800 hours of original footage – plus the archival materials. The realities of what we were shown were counter-balanced by lyrical ink-watercolour-styled animation illustrating Lemkin’s life, writings and causes. The music was haunting, melancholy, evocative. The voices of these remarkable heroes of law and peace from different nationalities are compelling. They command our honour and love. Each courageous champion fighting in their different ways for human law to prevail in the face of the banality of evil.
The United Nations and the Court of International Law are flawed. Someone described our behaviour as a global species as ‘primitive”. It surely is.
Yet Lemkin and these others are pioneers in providing humanity with new conceptual frameworks for global co-operation. Humanity must learn to prevent criminals who exercise total power over their sovereign nations. Turning a blind eye always results in more violence and more suffering. We must try to make Justice prevail so barbarity does not.
These people are stars who shine like diamonds in our dark sky.
In this film, suffering – indescribable suffering - is turned over and made meaning of. This movie is like a diamond, reflecting every vibrant hue of light, despite its formation from the dark matter of genocide and war. The eons of tons of pressure of human pain and perseverance succeeds in transforming the black into a translucent jewel. Edet Belzberg and her extraordinary crew have gifted the world a radiant piece of art. Time and suffering reveal an inner radiance of meaning - a diamond that will last forever.
I urge you to see this film.
The film was inspired by a book A Problem From Hell; America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power