A sensitive equilibrium: "Notre Village" review

Daily #1 English
NOTRE VILLAGE (2022) / Yerevan Premiere
Comes Chahbazian
11.7 20:00 Cinema House, Grand Hall

The Brussels-based director Comes Chahbazian has a thing for close-ups in his pleasantly understated documentary Notre Village. Closely observed shots of spiders weaving a web, freshly caught fish gutted on the ground, and bees wriggling out of their hives highlight the sensitive equilibrium of daily life in a remote location. You could easily misinterpret this rural quietness of this film as peace-like serenity, but the local inhabitants are here to remind you about the tragic events that they’ve already survived — and are potentially faced with again. When this film is not taking in the landscape by roaming through forests, valleys and hills, Notre Village probes the experiences of local villagers, who in the Artsakh of the 1990s formed an armed resistance to protect themselves and free their land. Through Chahbazian’s formal explorations of this village, the pains of the past are reverberating through the present, as war has returned to Artsakh almost thirty years later. Chahbazian has found an elegant way to deal with this subject of war, trauma and survival, refraining from imposing himself too much in the film and rather letting the landscape and its inhabitants speak for themselves. The result is a quietly affecting journey in the past, present and uncertain future of a region that knows all about the ebbs and flows of life and death.

Hugo Emmerzael