Swinging Fields

Vrej is forced to leave his home during the 2020 war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. His return home shows the price people pay to live on their land and protect their identity.

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Sareen Hairabedian

Sareen Hairabedian is an Armenian American documentary filmmaker and founder of HAI Creative production company. She tells intimate stories through an observational lens. She made her directorial debut with We Are Not Done Yet, an HBO short documentary about U.S. veterans who use poetry to battle their traumas. For her first feature, she has received Show more support from ARTE, IDA, CNC, and others. Show less

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Azza Hourani

Jordanian producer Azza Hourani obtained her degree in producing in 2011 from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts. She has 15 years of experience working with regional and international institutions and is currently producing two feature documentaries, both endorsed by IDA, Screen Ireland, ARTE, IDFA, and others.

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The Film

Swinging Fields is a coming-of-age story set against a war that has been simmering in the post-Soviet southern Caucasus for decades. Vrej, an 11-year-old Armenian boy, is forced to leave his homeland during the 2020 war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Seeking refuge in neighboring Armenia with his family while surrounded by fear, Vrej finds comfort in prayer. After five months of displacement, Vrej returns to his small surviving village in Nagorno-Karabakh. Things don’t look the same anymore. Armenians lost the 44-day brutal war. When he returns to sixth grade, a patriotic thread weaves its way through their lessons as if designed to prepare the kids for future battles. Combat becomes normalized. Once school ends, Vrej attends a military-themed camp where children of different ages learn the basics of military service including weapon handling. While other children take selfies with their guns, Vrej is overwhelmed by the grave responsibility that comes with holding an assault weapon.

When Vrej returns home from camp in the summer, his village shows signs of change. A new road that connects his village to the capital city of Stepanakert will do more than expose the family to more traffic and commerce; Vrej realizes that it will forever alter his childhood paradise. Swinging Fields is a portrait of the price that is paid by many to live on their land and protect their identity.