By: Addison Wylie
Edet Belzberg’s Watchers of the Sky is built on perseverance. It’s the film’s bread and butter.
The doc has stories about those who refuse to give up fighting for change. But, the glue holding these stories together is Raphael Lemkin’s unstoppable mission to invent the word “genocide” and give it a meaning. His sweat and tears worked hard to urge the UN to consider the heinous act of ethnic cleansing as an unlawful decision worthy of punishment. Lemkin had others admiring his determination, and worried for his questionable wellbeing. He had dedicated so much time to it, he often forgot to tend to his own needs.
Lemkin’s hard work has inspired others throughout history. His actions influenced the conception of the Nuremberg trials, as well as recent work with Rwandan refugees. We see that impacting influence carry over as the film shoots back-and-forth over time. Along with all of the content and tenacity, the film incorporates insightful and fascinating interviews with Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem From Hell.
Watchers of the Sky has a lot to give and the information hits hard with relevancy. Movie goers also get lovely animations that flow and run like watercolours, while quotes from Lemkin appropriately give the film emotional, impassionate context.
However, no matter how expertly the documentary is edited and how competently Belzberg handles the subject matter, Watchers of the Sky can’t stop itself from being extremely dry. If you have the patience for Belzberg’s dense doc, I expect you’ll find Watchers of the Sky to be an important, valuable watch.