Review: This Rain Will Never Stop (2020)

Crossing Europe Film Festival
Competition Documentary

courtesy of Crossing Europe

In life and films alike, sometimes it is hard to pinpoint the topic and develop it into a story or a narrative because the context around it can be richly diverse, therefore complicated and hard to filter. Unlike life itself, which can be, and often is, messy and confusing, those qualities could prove to a fatal error to a film. But sometimes there is no other way to tell a story or pose a complicated, convoluted issue to be dealt with than to follow the gut feeling and seemingly jump between topics.

That is the case with the uncompromising documentary This Rain Will Never Stop by Alina Gorlova and it seems that the gamble the filmmaker took worked for the festival juries. It went on a long, predominantly virtual festival tour starting with last year’s IDFA and moving on to Festival Dei Popoli, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Las Palmas and Wiesbaden goEast (to name a few), where it scooped a number of awards. We caught it finally at Crossing Europe in Linz, Austria, where it was screened in the Documentary Competition.

Let us start with our protagonist, Andriy Suleyman. At the end of his elementary school, he and his family had to leave his and his father’s home country of Syria due to the civil war, and to move to his mother’s home country, Ukraine. Pretty much as soon as the Suleyman family settled down in Lugansk / Luhansk district in the Eastern Ukraine, the war also broke out there. Now quite grown up, but still idealistic, Andriy joins the Ukrainian Red Cross as volunteer, distributing the help to those in need, while his elder brother Arseniy has moved to Germany and is about to get married there.

The situation is even more complicated on his father’s, Syrian-Kurdish, side of the family. One of Andriy’s uncles lives in Germany with his family, the other has stayed in Aleppo, while the third one left for the Iraqi part of Kurdistan. Andriy’s parents want what they think is best for their sons, meaning migration to the West, education and the safe and stable life there, but Andriy is drawn to other things that are rooted both in his idealistic personality and his Kurdish ancestry. One sudden event proves to be crucial for his future…

The trouble with Gorlova’s approach is that the pieces of the story start fitting together only in the second half of the film. Before that, they resemble the vaguely connected snippets from a complicated life of an extended family in an extremely complicated situation, while the accent is on something completely different, which could test the audiences’ patience. Gorlova puts her own filmmaking skills under the spotlight, creating poetic, even expressionist-looking black and white imagery (kudos to the DoP Vyacheslav Tsvetkov) and melting it with the striking sound design by Vasyl Yavtushenko and the minimal electronic soundtrack by Goran Gora and Serge Synthkey. Gorlova lets herself and her colleagues Simon Mozgovyi and Olha Zhurba go wild in the editing department, spinning the film into an extremely moody, experimental direction while playing with the added “visual noise”.

In the end, This Rain Will Never Stop is something that could work better for the festival juries and hardcore cinephiles who would appreciate the amount and the level of “technique” invested in the filmmaking process, while it would seem simply “technical” and “showy” for the rest. It is a divisive viewing experience, but it certainly puts Alina Gorlova’s name on a watchlist for the talented, up and coming filmmakers that could do great things in the future.

Runtime: 102’
Countries: Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Qatar
Languages: Kurdish, Arabic, Ukrainian, Russian, German
Directed by: Alina Gorlova
Written by: Alina Gorlova, Maksym Nakonechnyi
Cinematography by: Vyacheslav Tsvetkov
Editing by: Alina Gorlova, Simon Mozgovyi, Olha Zhurba
Music by: Goran Gora, Serge Synthkey
Sound design by: Vasyl Yavtushenko
Produced by: Maksym Nakonechnyi, Ilona Bicevska, Patrick Hamm
Executive producer: Olena Yakovytska
Production companies: Tabor Productions, Avantis Promo, Bulldog Agenda
Supported by: Ukrainian State Film Agency, Doha Film Institute
Sales by: Square Eyes