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Next Masters Competition 2019
Nothing to Be Afraid Of Silva Khnkanosian

Ever since the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the still disputed territory is contaminated by landmines. This cautious documentary follows five female de-miners on their risky job.

Nothing to Be Afraid Of

Documentary Film
72 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stéphane Jourdain
Silva Khnkanosian
Vahagn Ter-Habobyan
Justine Hiriart
Paruyr Baghyan
Five women plod their way through a steep forest: They are defusing landmines for an NGO. Ever since the war in Nagorno-Karabakh at the beginning of the 1990s, the still disputed region is contaminated. Care and patience are imperative in this work, the effects of habituation their enemy. Speed would be a category with fatal consequences here: Every booby trap they overlook can cost a human life.

This observational documentary adapts its narrative rhythm to the slowness and meticulousness of the risky job. The women’s eyes are directed to the ground where they patiently search every square inch and dig up suspicious spots. The camera observes their activities with the same attention, frequently focusing on details. Gradually, the systematics of the processes are revealed. Only the beeping of the metal detectors and an occasional whistle disturb the silence. The forest seems silent after the long years of war. But then we are startled by the controlled detonation of a detected mine. What a relief for everyone to spend the evening in their shared accommodation in a relaxed atmosphere! Cooking and eating together brings some ease. The ever-present fear is left behind in the forest for a moment.

Annina Wettstein