Sundance review: ‘Watchers of the Sky’
Published: January 24, 2014 01:02AM
Updated: January 24, 2014 04:07PM
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| Courtesy Sundance Institute An archival photo of Raphael Lemkin, who coined the legal term "genocide" and lobbied to make it illegal under international law, in an image from "Watchers of the Sky."

“Watchers of the Sky”

U.S. Documentary

*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)

It may be strange to call a documentary soulful, but that’s an apt description of Edet Belzberg’s “Watchers of the Sky,” a moving look at genocide over the last century. Belzberg recounts -- through memoir quotes and evocative animation -- the life of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew and prosecutor who survived the Holocaust and coined the word “genocide.” Belzberg intercuts Lemkin’s life story with interviews of four people with recent experiences in genocide: Ben Ferencz, a prosecutor at Nuremberg; journalist-turned-UN ambassador Samantha Power, who covered “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia; Luis Moreno Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, building the case against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir over the deaths in Darfur; and Emmanuel Uwurukundo, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide now aiding Darfur refugees in Chad. Interlocking the disparate stories chillingly illustrate Lemkin’s belief that the urge toward genocide is a horrific constant in human nature.

-- Sean P. Means

“Watchers of the Sky” screens again in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Friday at 6:45 p.m. at the Broadway Centre Cinema 3, Salt Lake City; and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Prospector Square Theatre, Park City.