Director Tania Khodakivska knew she would die one day but, deep down, she says she hadn’t accepted her own mortality. Her 2017 directorial debut, Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances about Death, is an experimental film that comes to terms with death, while embracing life.
Khodakivska, who was born in Ukraine but now lives in New York, comes from a film editing background. Inspired by montage films like the Soviet classic Man with a Movie Camera, Enticing, Sugary, Boundless was created from film and digital footage, and represents how different people, in different settings, process death in various parts of the world, from the US to Italy, Ukraine, and Georgia.
The film is divided into three episodes. The first one, Enticing, takes place in a small Italian village, where, right after the death of famous filmmaker Tonino Guerra, his wife Lora and other relatives seek to come to terms with it. The second, Sugary, set in the Carpathians, centres around a mother’s fears that her children may be eaten by wolves on their way to school. Lastly, Boundless takes a look into the personal story of the film’s Director of Photography, Georgi Beridze, who died before the end of the shooting. His son takes his place on the set, and travels with the film crew to Shuchuti, a village in Georgia. While they are there, a traditional yearly game takes place, where two neighboring villages brutally fight for the possession of a leather ball and, at the end, the winners bring the ball to the cemetery. Blending documentary and fiction, Enticing, Sugary, Boundless is an exercise in abstract thinking, a disconcerting and testing watch that takes you on a visually dazzling journey on life’s important questions.
After the film’s release, Khodakivska recalls reading a review where a critic lauded the film, but disliked the title. The director’s own mother rang to ask her daughter, ‘But why Enticing, Sugary, Boundless?’. “I asked, ‘What do you think?’ She replied, ‘Because that’s how life is.’”
Watch the film on Takflix, a global streaming platform for Ukrainian films.