The 3 Rooms of Melancholia

Finland/Denmark/Germany/Sweden 2004. Dir: Pirjo Honkasalo. 106 min. 35mm

“A beautiful, moving, mysterious film” (Andrew O’Hehir, Salon), Pirjo Honkasalo’s multilayered observational documentary was made in response to the blind eye turned by many European nations, dependent on Russia for oil, to the conflict in Chechnya. Her movie is designed as a piece of music, a symphony in three movements, or rooms, each representing the spiritual state of children affected by the war. “Longing” is set in a military academy near St. Petersburg, where young cadets, many orphaned or abandoned, are trained for future roles in Russia’s army. “Breathing," filmed with cameras bravely smuggled into Grozny, the devastated Chechen capital, focuses on one woman’s attempts to rescue orphaned children. “Remembering” follows her across the border to a refugee camp in neighbouring Ingushetia, where the children are given shelter. “Luminous ... A prodigious, almost spiritual experience” (O’Hehir). “Magnificent ... A director-cinematographer with a poet’s vision” (Steven Holden, New York Times).