After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick /
themselves up, after all.
Sweet Smoke of the Fatherland begins with these lines from the poem The End and the Beginning by the Polish Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska. The documentary tells the story of three old people from three very different places in Europe: Catalonia, Lithuania and Abkhazia. People who saw wars come and go and who chose not to take a part in them, but to stay on the sidelines, to cultivate the land and to tidy up.
The three of them live in the place where they were born. They are elderly, poor, living in isolated places. They feed the chickens and the goats, they cook on a woodstove, they cultivate a bit of land – in as far as they are still capable. This makes Sweet Smoke of the Fatherland not just a story about war and people’s responses to it, but also about old age and loneliness, about people who feel connected to the soil that produced them and where they have experienced so much. They keep living there with all their beautiful and painful memories and dreams that, despite everything, they still have.
Masha Novikova (Moskou 1956) became known with journalistic documentaries as In the Holy Fire of Revolution (2008), about the battle Gary Kasparov fought for a new Russia; Anna, seven years in the frontline (2008), about journalist Anna Politkovskaya that was killed in 2006 (Amnesty Award Planet Doc Warshaw 2008; Special Mention Prize, 44a Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema Pesaro Italy; Special Juryprize, Festival of Liberties Brussels; Audience Award de Verzio 5 Doc Film Festival, Budapest) and
Three Comrades, about three Chechen friends of which two were killed during the Chechen wars (Special Mention Prize, Planete Doc Review, Poland; GRAND PRIZE of Ismailia International Festival for documentary and Short Films, Egypt; PRIZE for best investigation documentary DocLisboa; Special Mention Prize, MARFICI (International Independent Film festival of Mar del Plata, Argentinie); Premiere: Amnesty IFF 2007– best film and cinema release in Dutch Cinemas; SEGUNDO PREMIO TIEMPO DE HISTORIA, Vallidolid, Spanie – november 2006; One World Praag 2007– selected for screening-trip at 36 international Film Festivals such as Sundance and Locarno).
Sweet Smoke of the Fatherland was nominated for Best Dutch feature Documentary at the Dutch Film Festival 2012. For more information: Novdoc.
Script and director: Masha Novikova
Director of photography: Vladas Naudzius
Sound recording: Rik Meier
Editor: Patrick Minks
Sound design and mix: Tom Bijnen
Executive producer: Willemijn Cerutti
Commissioning editor: Margje de Koning
This film was supported by Dutch Cultural Media Fund, The Netherlands Film Fund & CoBO Fund.
a Zeppers Film & TV production in co-production with IKON.