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Sundance review: ‘Watchers of the Sky’

First Published      Last Updated Jan 24 2014 04:07 pm

"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.