A war seen from the perspective of children

It is rare for war coverage to take its point of departure from an orphanage. Nonetheless, this is the starting point of A House Made of Splinters, a Danish-Ukrainian documentary film that adds new voices and depth to the understanding of the consequences of conflict. It premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday.

The IMS-supported documentary film A House Made of Splinters has been selected to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival 2022 in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. The film is a co-production between Danish and Ukrainian documentary film producers.

A House Made of Splinters portrays life in a children’s home at the northern parts of the frontline of the war in Eastern Ukraine. It follows three of the house’s young residents who have been removed from their families by the state because their parents are not able to properly care for them. It is an intimate depiction of the long-term consequences of war for the greater society, the families and the children in the area. However, it also shows how new friendships and communities grow between the children and the social workers who work hard to bring comfort, stability and safety into their lives.

Giving a voice to the voiceless

The film is directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont, a Danish director whose acclaimed first feature documentary The Distant Barking of Dogs also focused on children’s lives in war zones. A House Made of Splinters allows the children’s voices to be heard and provides the opportunity to see the war and the crumbling of society from their perspectives – perspectives which are often overlooked in mainstream media’s coverage of conflict and crisis.  

“A House Made of Splinters is an excellent example of what documentary film can do: they are able to go in depth over the long haul; give a voice to marginalised groups and stories that are usually excluded from public debate; and connect audiences to the human consequences of complex developments,” comments Henrik Underbjerg, IMS Documentary Film Advisor. He adds that it is also a good example of the kind of films that IMS’ Documentary Film supports which often focus on the voices of women and minorities.

Henrik Underbjerg explains that Sundance Film Festival receives about 12,000 film submissions from all over the world each year, but only about 100 are picked out for the final programme. “Only few films make it into Sundance’s programme, and it is a testament to the high quality and relevance of this story. It is a story that would otherwise be likely to go uncovered and a group in society that would go unrepresented,” he says.

Watch the film

The film will premiere online Sunday 23 January, 7.30 PM GMT +01:00.

An additional online screening will take place Tuesday 25 January 4:00PM GMT +01:00.

You can buy tickets to watch the film here ($20 for a single viewing).

A House Made of Splinters is supported by IMS Documentary Film with funds from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

IMS Documentary Film works with independent filmmakers from around the world to develop new projects, connect with the film industries and enable collaborative storytelling that creates impact and contributes to social, political and cultural developments.

Read more about IMS Documentary Film here.