In many moments we witness Yarik and Oleg playing like regular kids, but their fun is cut short by the dangers present in a war zone. What do you notice about their everyday experiences that are different from your own? What kinds of limitations do Yarik and Oleg experience as kids growing up in Hnutove? How would you feel if you were living in this village right now?
The three young boys are very intrigued by weaponry, the very paraphernalia that has caused harm and destruction to their families and community. Why do you think they are curious about objects like bullets, mines and guns? Do you think they are conditioned as boys to be unafraid of weapons, or even to become familiar with them? Why?
Oleg, Yarik and Kostya casually discuss the dangers of war and exploding mines in their neighborhood. War-related drills seem to have become common in Oleg’s school. Violence has become normalized and the boys seem to be becoming desensitized to it. What do you think are some of the longterm effects on children of witnessing violence repeatedly? Even if Oleg and his grandmother left their home, how do you imagine their experiences in Hnotuve might impact them in the future?
Oleg, reflecting on Yarik’s departure, says, “He can’t live without his mom like I can.” What do Oleg’s words make you feel? Does it seem he is forced to grow up too quickly?
Oleg tries hard to be tough, even though he is living in a frightening situation. He is only 10 years old. Why do you think he feels that he must mask his fear as an adult would?