2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE EARTH IS BLUE AS AN ORANGE

THE EARTH IS BLUE AS AN ORANGE | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Iryna Tsilyk observes a Ukrainian family as they process life in a war zone by making films about their experience.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

Exquisitely shot and bold in its metastorytelling approach, director Iryna Tsilyk’s documentary follows single mother Anna and her four children as they document their lives under siege in Ukraine.

Eldest daughter Mira dreams of becoming a cinematographer. As bombs descend on neighboring homes, the family construct, act in, and edit stylized scenes of dangerous predicaments they’ve lived to tell. Mira’s re-creations ratchet up the drama, using local soldiers, tanks, and even her own grandmother to tell terrifying tales of survival. Meanwhile, Iryna quietly captures their more quotidian moments during their shoots and in between takes – scenes that include Mira’s siblings squabbling over line readings, cozy dinners by the fire, and Anna’s compassionate gaze as she watches Mira apply to film school.

Eventually, the two projects fuse into a single vision that gorgeously encapsulates the extremes of war, both its explosive trauma and its mundane peripheral existence in everyday life. With miraculous insight, THE EARTH IS BLUE AS AN ORANGE observes a family – and a filmmaker – cope with war using their cameras, working in tandem to create meaning out of a meaningless conflict.

Some Background:


  • Iryna Tsilyk

    Tsilyk is a Ukrainian filmmaker and author making her feature directorial debut with this project. Her most recent short films, included in the omnibus documentary INVISIBLE BATTALION, also explored war through the lens of Ukrainian women.


  • Anna Kapustina

    Kapustina is the head of Ukrainian film production company Albatros Communicos. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • Giedrė Žickytė

    Žickytė is a Lithuanian director and producer whose previous docs have screened at IDFA, Hot Docs, Sheffield, Visions du Reel, and Göteborg, among other international festivals. This marks her first film at Sundance.


  • Ivan Bannikov

    This is also the first Sundance project for the Ukraine-based Bannikov.

Additional Editor:

  • Danielius Kokanauskis

    Lithuanian editor Kokanauskis, who regular cuts Sergei Loznitsa’s films, also makes his Sundance debut with this project.

Why You Should Watch:
Despite its surrealist-inspired title, Tsilyk’s film is grounded in the everyday, as life goes on for Anna and her children despite the ongoing war. Using art to process their experiences – and to distract themselves from the very real dangers they regularly face – the family demonstrates a sense of love and hopefulness, refreshing in a film about war.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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