Genetic diseases are such a delicate subject that it excites and terrifies with the same intensity. However, if an adult suffering from such a disease can provide the viewer with a certain emotional acceptance, a child facing this situation is a devastating image each time. Thus, the subject chosen by director Vesna Marich, who in her short documentary ‘To Watch the Truth in the Eyes‘ aims to capture the daily existence of two teenagers born with the burden of a deficient heredity whose eyes reflect the life of the entire community they belong to, proposes from the very beginning an emotional difficulty in which the compassion of the audience competes with the indignation against a careless society based on dysfunctional systems. Without adopting a melodramatic tone to support the cinematic substance of this documentary, the director explores the destiny of two Bosnian families who fight the illnesses of their two children in order to give them the chance to attain not necessarily the standards of an indifferent world hiding behind imprecise concepts, such as “normality”, but the style and education necessary to perceive their existence as a challenge at the end of which there is true happiness. Indirectly, such a project overcomes the strict problems of quasi-irresolvable physical and mental problems, also attacking the impassibility of laws against which only the devotion of parents and the informal solidarity of others can fight. Intimate fragments alternate in this short documentary with gestures, desperate attempts, but also with some almost magical pantomime moments, describing perhaps an inconvenient but essential reality to understand the power of humanity within us.
Without being a “classic” narrative documentary that aims to track the chronological evolution of a certain event, ‘To Watch the Truth in the Eyes’ has a delicate descriptive goal, portraying the attempts of several golden hearted people to fight for the education and the necessary physical development of two adolescents suffering from genetic diseases. Thus, the spectator comes in contact with the desperate actions, the dreams, and the hopes of some parents in Bosnia who try to give their children the opportunity to happily live their lives.
By choosing such a theme, director Vesna Marich shows admirable courage, since such a decision risks adopting a slightly ostentatious cinematographic language that could push the delicacy of this social problem into a cheap sentimentalism. Fortunately, this project avoids these stylistic pitfalls, providing with trenchant objectivity everyday episodes that do not spare or manipulate the viewer’s sensibility. The black and white frames that seem to depict the limited perspective of children burdened by a destiny far too harsh alternate with the natural veracity of human contacts caught up in a dynamic sequence of colour images, following the hesitating but steady steps of the two protagonists defeating the ugliness of an opaque world by their intact purity. The result is a shocking, sensitive, and optimistic documentary that touches a painful poetic nucleus intended to any kind of audience. But this painful poetry is not just the product of a temperate and intelligent directional vision, but also the very condition of a reality that surrounds us, a reality that the short documentary ‘To Watch the Truth in the Eyes’ illustrates with a melting profoundness.