News from the Locarno Festival

Word of War

Sand und Blut – Fuori concorso

Word of War



Many films in recent years have sought to recount the dramatic upheavals that are still shaking Iraq and Syria by relying on that infinite pool of images circulating online as dire documents of what has been happening. Matthias Krepp and Angelika Spangel’s Sand und Blut starts from here, but with a complexity and a narrative capacity of unexpected energy and innovation. The film is a single flow of found footage, with commentary provided offscreen by Iraqi and Syrian refugees from a camp near Vienna whose faces are never seen. Little of the unsettling material has been seen before and the narrative structure is strengthened by the simple idea of following a chronological order: from the arrival of the American army in Baghdad to the war against ISIS in Iraq, from the first peace demonstrations to the civil and then ethnic-religious war in Syria. The film lives on constant triggers: the refugees being interviewed recognize places from their childhood that have been destroyed by war or at times even spot themselves during the fighting. They are astonished and moved, they analyze with rage and lucidity. And so the reality is shown to be more extreme than the document that seeks to verify it, or perhaps it is just that the truth is stored in the insight and memories of the few who have seen it.

Lorenzo Esposito

Follow us