An emotionally charged short, A Day in February is an empathetic, yet difficult watch from Klaas Diersmann. Daria Panchenko’s agonising performance sweeps you off your feet in a film that demands your attention.
Galyna (Daria Panchenko) works in another country to make enough money for her family to survive in her homeland, and one phone is all she has to ensure their safety.
Seven heart-wrenching minutes, that is the best way to describe Klaas Diersmann’s A Day in February. We follow Galyna around as she impatiently waits for that phone call. Here, work colleagues are aware of her pain, possibly being in the position themselves. Once that phone call does eventually come, though, it is a panic-inducing avalanche of despair for our protagonist. All we can do is sit there almost dumbfounded at the speed at which everything happens; it feels almost too real as if Diersmann has taken his story from a first-hand account. Then, as soon as the phone call has started, it’s finished, leaving Galyna and the audience in shellshock.
Cinematographer Aaron Adrian Rogers does some excellent work here, especially in those final minutes when Galyna is taking her call. The camera is tight on her; we can only hear what Oleg is saying on the other end of the phone, but by almost pinning the camera to Panchenko’s face, we understand the implications of everything being said, and it is horrific. Even when Galyna is working on her sewing machine in the factory, an unbearable tension is present. Add to how emotional she is about her impending phone call, and you actively fear she might hurt herself on the machine thanks to Peter Owen Brooks editing. From a technical standpoint, everyone is firing on all cylinders in A Day in February, and you become so tremendously immersed in Galyna’s story.
Acting-wise, this is effectively a one-woman show, and the effectiveness of A Day in February hinges almost solely on the strength of Daria Panchenko’s performance. She knocks it out of the park and knocks us for six with her portrayal as a wife and mother helpless in the face of unrelenting violence. You don’t actually realise it, but you find yourself holding your breath as she fights to keep Oleg on the line, the chaos on the other end of the phone holding your complete attention.
Panchenko provides an unbelievably great performance in an incredibly great short film. A Day in February hits you with precision gut punches you have no defence for. This film throws the gravity of the situation that Galyna and people like her have been encountering for a long time now. It isn’t just about what happened in February; it is a story that could be told about anyone who has moved from a country where violence or war emanates from at that time. At times unbearably compelling, Klaas Diersmann’s film is a reminder that there are too many families in Galyna’s shoes around the world.
The Bolton International Film Festival is running physically from October 4th – 8th and Online from the 11th – 22nd October. For more information please click here.
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