Screened as part of NZIFF 2022

A House Made of Splinters 2022

Directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont

Unwaveringly compassionate, this intimate and wrenching observation of a refuge for children, shot in pre-invasion Ukraine, deservedly won the Directing Award, World Cinema Documentary at Sundance 2022

Denmark / Ukraine In Russian and Ukrainian with English subtitles
87 minutes DCP


Director, Cinematography


Monica Hellström


Michael Aaglund


Uno Helmersson


Eva, Sasha, Polina, Kolya


Sundance, CPH:DOX, Sydney 2022


Directing Award (World Cinema Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2022


A dilapidated building near what was the frontline of the Eastern Ukraine battlegrounds provides shelter for children who have been temporarily removed from their homes by the state because of neglect. Here, a small and dedicated team of social workers strive to provide a loving environment for their young charges while the latter’s future custody is decided by the judicial system and their parents’ ability, or not, to take care of them.

The film focuses on three children, Eva, Sasha and Kolya, and follows them through the nine months the children generally remain in the refuge. Although they are unrelated, their experience of traumatic familial situations, often triggered by the Russian/Ukraine conflict in the Donbas, draws connections between their splintered lives. War and the societal breakdown and turmoil it induces may be the backdrop, but the film instead captures the children’s incredible ability to discover or create magical moments despite harsh realities.

Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont’s equally haunting, Oscar-shortlisted The Distant Sound of Barking Dogs (NZIFF 2017) was also filmed in Eastern Ukraine, an area he has been working in since 2015: a “part of the world that [he] has completely lost his heart to.” It should be noted that as of the time of writing the children of the shelter have been evacuated to a safer area to escape the bombing threat. — Sandra Reid