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Interview With Haaretz Journalist Shireen Falah Saab; Interview With "All The Beauty And The Bloodshed" Director Laura Poitras; Interview With "A House Made Of Splinter" Director Simon Lereng Wilmont. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 02, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
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GOLODRYGA: Israel on edge. Unrelenting protests over Netanyahu's proposed judicial reform and a wave of violence in the West Bank. I speak to
Palestinian journalist Shireen Falah Saab.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAN GOLDIN, OPIOID ABUSE SURVIVOR AND PAIN ORGANIZATION CREATOR: When you think of the profit of peoples' pain, you can only be furious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Artist and activist, Nan Goldin's personal quest to hold the powerful to account for the opioid crisis. Director Laura Poitras joins me
on her acclaimed new film, "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed".
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SIMON LERENG WILMONT, DIRECTOR, "A HOUSE MADE OF SPLINTERS": It's been almost spiraling out of control. And for each one of these kids that I saw
at the shelter, they could easily put in 10 more but there is no space for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmont talks to Hari Sreenivasan about his Oscar nominated documentary "House Made of Splinters" on the sorrow and
hope found in a Ukrainian children shelter.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Israel is in chaos. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is desperately trying to calm protests rocking his country. Protests that started after a
controversial decision he made to reform the judiciary. Demonstrators are beyond angry over the move saying that it threatens the very foundations of
Israel's democracy. One of the bills would give a simple majority in the parliament the power to overrule the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, violence has flaring in the West Bank. And now, one of the Netanyahu senior ministers is facing backlash after making incendiary
comments. Saying the Palestinian town of Huwara, "Needs to be erased." Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, made those remarks just days after
settlers went on the deadly rampage there setting fires to cars and homes with families inside. The U.S. has strongly condemned the comments.
With me now to discuss all of this is Arab journalist with Israeli Newspaper, "Haaretz", Shireen Falah Saab. Shireen, thank you so much for
joining us. There is a lot to get through here. Before we go over the judiciary overhaul, let's talk about what's happening in the West Bank.
Just to give our viewer a sense of just the past few days in the cycle of violence.
11 Palestinians were killed in IDF raids in Nablus last week, then two Israelis murdered on Sunday in Huwara, just south of Nablus. One American
Israeli was killed in the Jordan valley, in the evening then a rampage of hundreds of settlers, as we talked about in the open there, in Huwara as
revenge, killing one Palestinian, injuring over 100 people. We've got damage to property and livestock and animals. Give us a sense of why this
is happening right now, this violence from settlers.
SHIREEN FALAH SAAB, JOURNALIST, HAARETZ: Hi, Bianna. First of all, we have to say that I'm not really surprised what's happening now Huwara and
Nablus. This is a consequence of ignoring the occupation for a lot of years. The last escalation is about 400 settlements that attacked
Palestinian properties and their lands.
I think that the first time that I see an attack of this scale and carried out in front of large of -- police and army present and -- it's -- these
settlements are protected by the members of Knesset like Smotrich and they are not arrested, unfortunately. And if they are arrested, they are free
right now. So, there is not a real solution for this violence against Palestinians. And we see this violence that's protected by Ben-Gvir and
GOLODRYGA: Is it being viewed among many in Israel, among Israelis, among the Arab community there as a whole that this is a government that somewhat
condoning this type of violence?
SAAB: This violence, as Arabs that live in Israel, they expect this violence against Palestinians because the security service didn't prepare
any kind for program.
They didn't prepare themselves and they didn't do anything to prevent this violence whether out of -- affecting among the Palestinians or just make
something to prevent this violence. So, Arabs expect -- accept this -- expected this violence among Palestinians.
GOLODRYGA: Clearly, this violence, it may have been expected by Arabs and that speaks volumes about the state of relations there in the country and
expectations being at a bare minimum. But many Israelis were outraged by what they saw, and increasingly outraged by the comments that they heard
from the finance minister. He initially responded by liking a tweet that said that the Huwara should be erased. He then followed up with these
comments. Let's play them.
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BEZALEL SMOTRICH, ISRAELI FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): I think the village of Huwara needs to be erased. I think that the state of Israel
needs to do this. And God forbid, not private people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: He later attempted to walk back those statements. What was the reaction among the community there, particularly among Palestinians?
SAAB: We have to be honest, Bianna, with ourself. This is the real face of the member -- the right of Knesset. This is the real face of Smotrich. We
are not surprised, by the way, because in the last year, Smotrich said to the Arab members of Knesset that they are here by mistake because Ben-
Gurion, they didn't finish his work in '48.
So, we are -- we're expecting that. And I'm so sad because we have to see all this violence against Palestinians. And just right now, Israeli
citizens pay attention for the consequences of the occupation that Palestinians who live in Israel, they're very painful. And this is the
reason they are not involved also in the protests and demonstrations right now. We're really disappointed, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Well, the United States has issued a comment via the state department in response to the minister's comment. Let's play that.
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NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: These comments are irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting. And just as we
condemn Palestinian inciting to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence. We call on Prime
Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: I believe the Minister Smotrich was planning a trip to the United States. These are similar comments and expressions that are echoed
amongst Israelis, amongst Palestinians. I'm just wondering if there's any more added pressure when it comes from the United States government.
SAAB: I'm not sure for that. Smotrich, Ben-Gvir, and also Netanyahu, they are very concentrating on changing the legal system in Israel and deepening
the occupation and controlling the Palestinians people and lands and keep building constructions and settlements in the West Bank. So, I'm not sure
that United States pressure will be affect Smotrich.
I think that Smotrich is a result from the settlement that they would like to control and change the legal system. It's not just about the Supreme
Court. It's about changing the principles that based on the Israeli state. They would like to really deepen the occupation and to harm the minorities,
not just Arabs, also the LGBT, women rights. And we see that in every changing in the laws that they put track now in the Knesset.
GOLODRYGA: Let's talk about the other major crisis that's impacting the country and the government right now. And obviously, those have to deal
with the judiciary reforms to really weaken the judiciary system and its independence that this government is trying to enact right now. There have
been weeks of protests. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people taking to the street.
Yesterday was what was dubbed the Day of Disruption. And we saw some real clashes between Israeli police and protesters, at least 11 people were
injured. Police using stun grenades, aggressive on their horses. I believe, one man even lost an ear because of a stun grenade.
Talk about your reaction to what we've seen yesterday and some of these images that are now showing that are not very common place in Israel --
GOLODRYGA: -- Israelis protesting with flags, you know, clashing with the police.
SAAB: Yes, I think it's very sad day yesterday because people -- normal Israeli people that would like just to protect the so-called democracy and
just to prevent the collapse, it's a political disaster and ethical disaster what's really happening here in the -- in Israel. And it's the
first time that we see in Tel Aviv these clashes. We are -- usually see these clashes in the West Bank, in Jenin, in Nablus but what happened
yesterday, it's really harmful also for the Israeli people of that they serve also in the army and serve in the high tech (ph). And they're normal
And what's interesting, Bianna, that Netanyahu, yesterday, say, he did a comparison between the settlers in Huwara and in the people who protest in
Tel Aviv. He say, that they are similar, and it's not similar. Netanyahu keep pressing also the demonstration by the force. This is the Ben-Gvir
police that using the force against Israeli protesters.
And I should say that interesting point also, and for me, an optimistic point. Yesterday, some protesters say for the policeman, where were you in
Huwara? For the first time, the Israeli citizens, they understand that there is a really direct connection between the occupation in the West Bank
and the force that they used against Palestinians, and now we see it in the hurt of Tel Aviv. And for the first time, the protesters also against the
occupation and against the violence that settlement used to -- against Palestinians.
GOLODRYGA: You mentioned --
SAAB: So, this is the --
GOLODRYGA: -- you mentioned --
SAAB: And I think -- yes.
GOLODRYGA: Go ahead. Go ahead.
SAAB: No, I think this is -- I'm -- as an Arab citizen, I'm very afraid of the consequences because the Arab are minorities. And they are -- will be -
- no one have to -- no one can protect the minorities. And I think that yesterday, we see, for the first time, the kind of solidarity. And this is
very important to keep resisting the changes that Netanyahu and the other members of Knesset strive for it.
GOLODRYGA: Why is that there -- you mentioned the Arabs there as a minority, they make over about 20 percent of the population. Is it striking
to you that not more Arabs are protesting there along with Israelis? Not only, obviously, about what's happening in the West Bank, but obviously,
also the overhaul -- of the attempted overhaul of the judiciary and threats to democracy as a whole in the country.
SAAB: OK. Yesterday, we saw some demonstrations in Arab villages like Sakhnin and Nazareth, also. But it's -- the reason that Arab people protest
because the occupation. But I think that the Arabs are very painful from the Supreme Court. When they -- they are not involved, really, because they
don't feel there is a real democracy in Israel. It's a racist system.
We have to be honest to say that there is a racist system in Israel that discriminate between Arabs and Jews. And this democracy that the Jews
protesters want to demonstrate for is a democracy for Jews. So, the Arab protesters asked for it to be -- to share and to be involved, but they also
say that we want to talk about the occupation, about discrimination. We need democracy for all to be for all.
GOLODRYGA: You mentioned president -- the Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, really comparing, in a sense, what we saw happen in the West
Bank to these protesters. And yes -- and calling them in anarchist. Let's listen to what he said.
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BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yesterday, in Huwara, after a horrible murder of two wonderful brothers, I
told lawbreakers that we will not tolerate a situation where every person will do what they think is right.
And I say this again in front of the lawbreakers who crossed a red line today in Tel Aviv, we will not tolerate a situation where a person will do
what he thinks is just.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: What's ironic here Shireen is that, it seems to be the harshest condemnation he has against the settlers and what they did in Huwara. But
he's doing it by comparing them to Israelis, using their right to protest and calling them anarchist. How is that received?
SAAB: We do not accept what Netanyahu said. We -- Netanyahu's lying. We should say the truth. Netanyahu is lying for many years. And the comparing
is just another mechanical use that he used just to press the protesters. And he is lying also for the -- her voters, and we should say that some of
the right-wing voters, they are very disappointed.
We see people from the settlement that are involved in the demonstration. So, Netanyahu face -- is facing a political disaster. And he's -- he have -
- he has nothing to lose. So, he will call the protesters anarchist and he will use force. But I think that Netanyahu's really face a political
disaster in his coalition. And he's -- in the hand, he wants to continue the changing of the legal system, and in the other hand, he called the --
Yair Lapid in the opposition to bring them to talk. So, he's lying all the time.
GOLODRYGA: It's objectively --
SAAB: And --
GOLODRYGA: -- it's objectively honest and accurate to call him compromised, given the situation that he is in right now. And the
corruption face -- corruption charges that he's facing and the trial that's currently underway. Is this really now a question of whether he's now
trying to protect his own back at the expense of the country's democracy? Is that where we are?
SAAB: Definitely that Netanyahu, his interest is to bring -- his interest to escape the trial against him. And even caused the destroying the legal
system and destroying the country. We now face a collapse in Israel. This is the first time that I faced a collapse and I see people that are really
worried, Arabs, jews, also Palestinians in the West Bank.
GOLODRYGA: It's --
SAAB: And --
GOLODRYGA: I'm sorry, Shireen. I'm just -- we're just tight for time. It really is a sobering assessment of the state that the country is in right
now. We really appreciate your expertise and you joining us today to talk to us about what is happening and offer your perspective there as a
journalist. Thank you so much. We appreciate the time.
SAAB: Thank you. Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Shireen Falah Saab, thank you.
Well, turning now to a David and Goliath story. One photographer's personal mission to hold the powerful to account for the opioid crisis. It's the
basis of a new documentary, "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" from director Laura Poitras. The Oscar nominated film follows artist Nan Goldin
in her fierce fight to call out the Sackler family, and the world-famous museums who've taken money from them and displayed their name.
The Sacklers, you might recall, owned Purdue Pharma which developed the drug OxyContin. Nan Goldin is, herself, a survivor of the opioid abuse.
Here is a clip from the film.
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NAN GOLDIN, OPIOID ABUSE SURVIVOR AND PAIN ORGANIZATION CREATOR: My anger at the Sackler family, it's personal. When you think of the profit of
peoples' pain, you can only be furious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nan, I said, I think we should take these people down. But do you think my career will implode? And I said, probably.
GOLDIN: We need to demand that the Met Museum, The Louvre, The Tate refused donation from the Sacklers and take down their name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: I spoke to the director Laura Poitras, earlier, from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Laura, thank you so much for taking the time and talking to us today. It is really a powerful film. What drew you to this story initially?
LAURA POITRAS, DIRECTOR, "ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED": Well, I mean, it's an amazing story. I mean, Nan Goldin, who is renowned in the art world
and whose work is collected by all the major museums around the world. She decided, after she came out of recovery from an OxyContin addiction that
she read an article by Patrick Radden Keefe that was in "The New Yorker", and that draw the connection between the Sackler family, who are known as
philanthropists in museums spaces and also in universities. And then also the, sort of, dark secret of their, you know, role in the overdose crisis
in the United States and marketing of OxyContin, which you know, has been found to be illegal.
And she just felt that it was not acceptable for museums to both receive money from the Sacklers or to put their name on these -- on the wings of
museums, but, you know, it was a long struggle.
And the first action they did was at the Met Museum where they -- a group of activists that are part of a -- she created an organization called PAIN,
which stands for Prescription Addiction Intervention Now. And they staged this big action at the Met to call attention. And it got a lot of media
attention but it didn't bring down the name immediately. It took a -- it was a long, hard fight, about four years before the museums did finally the
GOLODRYGA: Yes, Patrick Radden Keefe, we should mention, is in the film as well and is interviewed. And he, obviously, is the author of "Empire of
Pain", a chronicle of the Sackler family and their role in the opioid crisis here in this country today. Tell me about your relationship with
Nan. She is a fighter. She is fire, actually.
POITRAS: Yes, yes.
GOLODRYGA: How did you get her to open up to you about her life?
POITRAS: I mean -- uh-huh. I mean, you know, Nan is a legend in the art world. And she's a legend in cinema and film because her work has been so
influential for so many generations. And I -- when I was studying filmmaking, I was also studying Nan's work, both "The Ballad of Sexual
Dependency", which was her most well-known work that was released both as a book.
And she -- most of her work is known for the slide shows where she has 35- millimeter slides that she edits to music. And these are really cinematic experiences. So, I've always been moved by her work. Her work is about
gender, sexuality, queer identity, trans identity. It, sort of, documents subcultures, people on the -- who maybe society thinks are on the margin
but they actually are, you know, at the center of the universe in Nan's work.
And so, I've known her work for a really long time. And when she started doing these actions, I was just -- thought it was remarkable that somebody
with her position in the art world was risking all this, you know, it's a risk to take on the institutions that you care about. I mean, she loves
museums. But also, the risk, you know, the Sackler family, it's a billionaire family, they have armies of lawyers, they have private
investigators, and to take all of that on. And so, all those things were really interesting to me as a filmmaker. And so, she started actually
documenting the work before I joined, and then she invited me to join the film.
GOLODRYGA: We see some of her art in this film. For those that aren't familiar with her, talk about the influence that she had, her career and
her talent --
GOLODRYGA: -- on the art world as a whole because she really lifted the veil on really taboo subjects at the time.
POITRAS: Yes. I mean, so, the first major body of work that she did was filmed in Boston at a bar called "The Other Side", and it was documenting
trans and queer communities. Beautiful body of work. Incredibly -- just so beautiful black and white. And then she moved to New York and she was
documenting her community of friends.
And one of the things that's really interesting about Nan is that she's not an outsider. She's filming the people she knows, loves, her roommates, her
lovers, her deep and close friends like David Armstrong and Cookie Mueller. She -- Dave -- John Waters was somebody she photographed. And so, I mean --
it's a really, sort of remarkable depiction of an artist's scene and a scene that just didn't really care about what mainstream society was
And just so, you know, so cinematic. The sense of lighting, (INAUDIBLE), you know, her editing, you know. All those things, you know, you really --
yes, it's just -- it's a remarkable work. And it can be seen both in the books, like, you know, that's sort of available to a general public who
want to see her work. But the best way to see it is, of course, as slide shows.
GOLODRYGA: And she uses her stature and her clout, really, as a way to force museums --
GOLODRYGA: -- and other institutions that carry her work and know her name and know her reputation.
GOLODRYGA: To face a judgment with the opioid crisis and the Sackler name that is exhibited in so many of these museums and institutions. I want to
show a clip from the film at one of the protests that she staged at the Guggenheim Museum in 2019 along with PAIN, her group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDIN: Are we ready?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was at the bottom looking up and I checked out for a minute because I was looking up at the prescription slips and just, like,
in awe of the visual that it created.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Explain to us what we just saw. These were prescription slips - -
GOLODRYGA: -- that were falling.
POITRAS: Yes. Yes, I mean, it's a remarkable scene. So, what happened was there were -- there was -- there have been ongoing legal cases against
Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers. And the Massachusetts A.G. got a bunch of documents in discovery from the Sacklers, which included these horrific
quotes by Richard Sackler, the former president of Purdue Pharma, saying things, we need to hammer on their abuser and we're going to create a
blizzard of prescriptions that are going to beat the competition. You know, when they released OxyContin which is, sort of, this is like the -- they
were so driven by money and profit when they promoted this drug when they released it.
And so, they took these quotes and they quoted Richard Sackler and they made these fake prescription slips. And then the activists from Nan's group
called PAIN, Prescription Addiction Intervention Now. They went to the rotunda and then they started just dropping these prescriptions slips and
then they started to fall. And it looks like, to her, like hundreds of activists but there's actually a very small group. And they put these
banners and then they staged a die in at the bottom of the rotunda.
And you know, this was a really remarkable action, it was covered by all of the media. And this, I think, was the tipping point. This was about a year
into after Nan first created the organization. So, they've been very diligently trying to bring attention to what was happening in the Sackler
And then after this was when the National Portrait Gallery in London. Nan was set to do a retrospective and she said, I won't do a retrospective with
you unless you refuse Sackler donations. And they refused $1.3 million donation from the Sacklers. And then that was, like, the domino. Everything
started to fall after that. And so, all the museums said OK. We're not going to take money anymore from the Sackler family. But the name still
remained and there was -- and then that became the fight for the next, you know, three years, two to three years.
GOLODRYGA: And it was a huge decision to make, to stage these protests. You could sense that she says any from how nervous she was going into it.
GOLODRYGA: We should note that we reached out to representatives of the Sackler family for comment, have not received a response from them in time
for this interview right now. We also reached out to Purdue Pharma, I want to read for you their statement. They have said that, we have the greatest
sympathy and respect for those who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis, and we are currently focused on concluding our bankruptcy so that
urgently needed funds can flow to address the crisis. The settlement will deliver over $10 billion of value for opioid crisis abatement, overdose
rescue medicines, and victim compensation. In fact, our settlement is the only opioid settlement to date where individual victims get paid.
How do you respond to the various Sackler concerns in their reaction to the film and their statements?
POITRAS: I wouldn't describe them as concerns. I mean, Patrick Radden Keefe really does lay out a very strong argument. I mean, this -- the --
Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers new for over two decades that this drug was being -- was killing people, was getting people addicted and that they were
dying, and they continued to aggressively market it to make more and more and more money. And then when they started to feel the pressure from the
government, from the -- you know, like, lawsuits, they pulled their money out of the company and then declared bankruptcy.
I mean, it's a really -- it's a troubling story about America because, you know, the truth is there really isn't -- hasn't been any meaningful
accountability. I mean, they -- Purdue Pharma has twice pled guilty to federal crimes for their promotion of OxyContin and yet, not a single
Sackler family member who owned the company have been charged with crimes or had themselves to declare bankruptcy.
So, I think it's very problematic. I think it's -- you know America is this -- this -- the overdose crisis has affected so many people in this country.
I mean, the death toll is over half a million. It could be, you know, it's just increasing. Last year, it was over 100,000 alone. So, it's really --
it's devastated the country and the marketing of OxyContin really fueled this.
GOLODRYGA: And has ruined families, has gutted families.
POITRAS: Uh-huh. Yes.
GOLODRYGA: As you said, millions of victims involved here, Nan just one of them. I was really shocked, you know, when she described in detail about
her addiction which began in 2014 after she had undergone surgery. And see -- she said she could never get enough pills. And she said, she went from
taking three pills a day to 18. I mean, that just gives you a sense of what people were enduring at the time. And she continues to be on her road to
It's interesting because you approached this as a David versus Goliath kind of piece. And it would have been fascinating enough to just focus on this
one particular issue that her addiction and struggles with opioids and then the challenges then and her task of taking on the Sackler family and Purdue
Pharma, but you decided to expand beyond that and talk about her life in general.
A fascinating life, but a life also filled with tragedy as well. Sexual abuse, really dysfunctional family, and an older sister who suffered a
great deal and had many struggles in the 1960s before ultimately taking her own life. Talk about your decision to take all of this on.
POITRAS: Yes, I mean, first of all, I would say, like -- you know, it's important -- this is something, you know, if Nan was sitting here with me,
I mean that it really -- I mean, she's come through all of her work with a -- from a position of strength. And -- but her work is also very
And when I started the film, I knew it was going to look at the activism. I was interested in that. But, you know, her art is just so incredible. And
there's a -- you know, she brings a, sort of, intensity rawness and emotional depth to her photography that I was hoping we could also explore
in the film, and we did these very intense interviews.
And you know, we're looking at -- you know, it was important to me that the film look at -- you know, that the -- that there are tragedies in this film
but it's really also a celebration of art and the power of art is expression, and also, like, art is survival -- is a means of survival. And
that's how Nan describes that. And you can see that in the work. I mean, this is, you know, when she sort of discovers a camera when she was, you
know, 15 years old. She's given a Polaroid camera and she talks about it, literally giving her a voice.
And so, I'm really interested also in the, you know, the title of the film. You know, it's not just the bloodshed, right? It's all the beauty. And
there's, you know, a lot of, sort of, celebration a people who -- that art is a way to, sort of, counter some of the darker forces in society.
GOLODRYGA: And the through line throughout the film really is her older sister, Barbara, as we had noted. And the title of the film came from her
own words that she had written shortly before she died. There's a really touching moment where Nan had filmed an exchange with her parents so many
years later. And her mom gives us, and you see those written words by her sister. The film is really dedicated to Barbara in a way, too, and the
influence she had on Nan's life.
POITRAS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, Nan has dedicated all her artwork to her sister Barbara who was institutionalized as a young woman, a young
teenager. She's -- she happened to have been born at a time in the '50s and early -- you know, came of age in the '50s at a time where it was not OK to
be sexual or to be outspoken as a girl, and she was institutionalized many times. And Nan has, you know, always dedicated her work to Barbara, and
this film is very much dedicated to Barbara.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, it's quite beautiful, the relationship that she describes that was really short lived between the two of them is so memorable. How is
Nan doing today? I thought it was so important that she had documented. That she, in her road to recovery, is being helped by the use of other
medication as well.
POITRAS: Well, I mean -- I would say -- so, Nan is -- like all of her work is -- the -- she draws upon her life to hopefully destigmatize certain
issues. So, she decided to talk about certain things in this film because she thinks -- she hopes that it destigmatizes them. And then also she has
where we think of shame and blame in the larger society.
And so, she talks about things like Buprenorphine, which is a drug that really helps people who are trying to deal with addiction and opioid
addiction. And so, she talks about that in the film. But that was a very conscious decision for her to say, like, I'm going to talk about experience
because I know so many people are suffering and there's so much stigma around these issues. It's a really brave and also very political gesture of
hers to talk about these very personal and details. And the hope is that it brings, sort of, comfort and knowledge to other people.
GOLODRYGA: Really, a voice for so many out there. Laura Poitras, thank you so much for the film and for talking to us. We appreciate it.
POITRAS: Thank you. Great to be here.
GOLODRYGA: And if you or anyone you know is in need of help in the U.S. you can call or text 9-8-8 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for
confidential support. And for any anyone outside of the United States, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by
the International Association for Suicide Prevention. You can also turn to the global organization, befrienders. And "All the Beauty and the
Bloodshed" is currently playing in select theaters and will launch on HBO and HBO Max on March 19th.
We will turn now to a rare meeting in India, U.S. of the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met face
to face for the first time since the Ukraine war began. In happened on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting. And they spoke for 10
minutes, according to one state department official.
It comes as the war continues to rage, especially near the key eastern city of Bakhmut. Russian forces are making gains there, according to the
Ukrainian military. And fears are growing in the town of Chasiv Yar which could be Russia's next target. From there, Alex Marquardt reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is the road on the way to Bakhmut. Cars, military vehicles, bombing up and down
this road, going to and from the front. You see this armored vehicle right here. The V sign for victory. There are still some people here, not too
many, but some of these hearty residents have stayed behind.
This is the shop of Sevyuch (ph) who is here grilling meat, it's called shashlik. He actually fled from Bakhmut two months ago and has opened up
the shop selling basics like bananas, beetroot, and candles. There's another man here who we just met whose daughter is still in Bakhmut. One of
the thousands of people there who have been asked to evacuate but are still in the city amid this incredible fighting. You can see that they put up
would there to protect those windows, so much destruction in this town.
We were just farther in the center of town, it's called Chasiv Yar, this is one town over from Bakhmut with a large group of people at a bus stop,
waiting for a water delivery that never came. Every few moments, you can hear explosions, the sound of, what we believe to be, outgoing artillery
fire, Ukrainians firing at Russian positions.
We spoke with an older woman named Valentina (ph) who said that there is so much flying over their heads. She is scared all the time that they are so
close to the Russian positions -- that's more outgoing artillery fire. They are so close to the Russian position that they can walk there.
We spoke with some Ukrainian soldiers, like these ones, who man one of those artillery positions. They told us that there has been no order to
pull back from Bakhmut. That they're fighting because, if they give up Bakhmut, then this town, Chasiv Yar, this would be next. And that is what
everyone is thinking now, that if Russia were to take Bakhmut, that they would have another foothold in this region from which to try to push
further into eastern Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Alex Marquardt for that reporting there.
And our next guest, who has documented life in eastern Ukraine for years. Award-winning director Simon Lereng Wilmont's latest documentary, "A House
Made of Splinters" has received critical acclaim. He profiles Ukrainian children living in a halfway house after their parents were no longer able
to care for them. It premiered just weeks before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Simon joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the process of
making this powerful and raw documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, thanks. Simon Wilmont, thanks so much for joining us. First, for people who have not yet
seen the film, tell us a little bit about what it is about.
SIMON LERENG WILMONT, DIRECTOR, "A HOUSE MADE OF SPLINTERS": "A House Made of Splinters" is a documentary film about a very special -- kind of like,
halfway house for kids whose parents are not able longer to take care of them along the northern parts of the front line in 2020 in Eastern Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Good morning, little ones.
Good morning, I came to wake you up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Mrs. Irina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm telling you straight out, only our stepdad, Vanya, and --
SREENIVASAN: You know, there were so many different stories in the past several months coming out about Ukraine. And this was kind of the first
time I'd ever thought about the fact that there are children displaced inside the country for otherwise a normal non-war reasons. What were some
of the reasons that you saw him repeatedly of why these children were in this halfway house?
WILMONT: Well, mostly, it was due to their parents struggling with substance abuse of various kind. Most of them alcohol, there might also be
domestic abuse, but there's also PTSD running in the families or even trauma from when the war fled up in 2015. So, it's a small community that's
kind of like where the social issues that were existing is kind of like spiraling out of control. Also, because they've had a war going on for so
long in their backyard.
SREENIVASAN: So, as you're pointing out there that, really, since 2015, there are so many parents that have been displaced, unemployed,
traumatized. All kinds of different reasons why they might turn to substance abuse to try to, I don't know, medicate themselves.
That there is huge population of children that are coming in or, I guess, being shipped off to orphanages.
WILMONT: Yes, it's true. Margarita and Olga, the two caregivers of this shelter they told me, you know, that a few years ago, the problem they felt
like they had a -- they could handle this. But in the last couple of years, it has been almost spiraling out of control. And for each one of these kids
that I saw at the shelter, they could easily put in 10 more but there is no space for them.
SREENIVASAN: There is really poignant moments where you're, kind of, the fly on the wall and you're watching friendships blossom and end. And
literally from the minute a young girl is asking if she wants to be her best friend, to the moment where one of them goes off and the other one is
still there. You empathized with each of these characters, so to speak, because it's their real lives. I wondered how it was for you to watch that
and what happened to those young people?
WILMONT: You know, I have two kids roughly the same age. So, obviously, it's like a very sorrowful experience watching so raw emotional scenes like
this play out in front of my eyes. But the caregivers also told me was that in situations like this, it's so important when the kids are faced with
grief and sadness and that I, as an adult, even though I might be crying inside, I should always try to assume some kind of stable comfort and be
like a rock that they can lean on. And then I can hide my own feelings and take care of them later because in that moment, it is the kids that it's
SREENIVASAN: Tell me a little bit about the young boy that you profiled, because he is, sort of, an interesting character that, as a viewer, he's
complicated. Tell me about him.
WILMONT: Yes, when I first saw Collia (ph), who's 13 years old, he was like -- he's like on a path to jail. You know, he was shoplifting,
stealing, he was smoking cigarettes, and he was trying to climb the hierarchy of the older boys at the shelter, even doing tattoos and stuff.
But at the same time, as him being really good at that world, I also noticed that he was so kind and he was so gentle with his two younger
siblings, almost like a father figure for them, even though he was only 13. And that, you know, contrast in character I found was immensely
SREENIVASAN: There's also this other dimension, you have a scene where their mother comes and you just remember that this is just still a little
boy. I mean, even though you are showing us scenes of how he is taking responsibility for his siblings, there is this really touching emotional
moment where he is just bearing his head into the neck of his mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Come here.
COLLIA (PH): What?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are those cuts? Did you do it yourself? Never do it again. I need you. I couldn't live without you. I'd miss you.
WILMONT: Yes, it was an amazing moment also to see because until that point, he had mostly been the tough guy. And he was, you know, wise beyond
his years. He was used to taking care of himself and his siblings when his mom and his various stepdads wasn't around or weren't able to. So, he had
like, a very strong facade.
And in this moment, she discovers that he had been harming himself a little bit as a cry for attention, probably. And when she confronts him with that,
that's where his barrier breaks down because all of a sudden, she is a mom to him. She is acting as a mom is supposed to do. And it think that's
actually what broke his shell down in that moment.
SREENIVASAN: There is a scene where Collia (ph) is greeting to his little siblings. And it's "The Scorpion and the Frog".
COLLIA (PH) (through translator): You said you wouldn't sting me. Now, we'll both die. Why did you do it? The scorpion replied, "It's my nature."
The end. What did you learn from the fable?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
WILMONT: Yes, that's his life. That until now, you know, the only one Collia (ph) has told that he can trust is himself, and that's his credo in
life. And hopefully, you know, this is something that the caregivers I know have been working on changing that while he was at the shelter. But also
now, I hope that his new foster family will also begin to work with Collia (ph) and show him that the good people -- if you surround yourself with
good people, those are the ones that you can trust actually.
SREENIVASAN: What happened to him after the film? We see at the end of the film that he's shifted off --
SREENIVASAN: -- to an orphanage and his siblings are left behind. What happened to him and his siblings?
WILMONT: His siblings, all four of them, we only see two in the film, but all four of them were adopted by family, a local family. But they didn't
have room for Collia (ph), so he was not adopted. He was sent to a state orphanage. But luckily, as -- normally, you know, the foster family sever
any family ties or connections but because of the film, they actually allowed Collia (ph) to keep in contact with his siblings while he was at
the orphanage. It was really great because he was also very close to the orphanage.
But as of the 24th, he was put on a train very early on and driven westward, and later into Europe, actually, on a temporary orphanage, and
that broke the contact with the foster family. Now, just -- I think, maybe one and a half month ago, Collia (ph) was adopted and he's back in Kyiv
with a seemingly really good and resourceful family. And they've promised me hand over heart that they will do whatever they can to reestablish that
contact with his lost siblings.
SREENIVASAN: Wow. Tell me also a little bit about the young girl. When she sits down, there's this really poignant scene between her and the woman who
may become her foster mom.
SREENIVASAN: That entire exchange, it's -- you just -- you're watching what could be a pivotal moment in this young girl's life.
WILMONT: Yes. She is taken to see this lady as -- it's part of a longer process that you don't see all of the process play out in this film, but
it's the first step in a very long process of meetings between both a potential foster mom and then Sasha, the young girl, who was only 10 at
that time in her life.
And it's a simple scene. You know, they were sitting in opposite each other, you know, both eyeing at each other but also trying to find some
common things to talk about. And in between the scenes, you can -- between the words that they exchange, you can also feel that there is a whole other
story going on. You know, people meeting for the first time, do we like each other? Don't we like each other? How is our relationship going to be?
SREENIVASAN: Yes. And how was it to try to win the trust of these children who are already in a place that's -- I can't imagine what it's like for a
child to be separated from their families and also in the context of knowing that there's a war, and not knowing where they're going to be in a
couple weeks or a couple of months.
WILMONT: Well, I do my own cinematography. And actually, just coming into the shelter, just kind of almost like a one-man band. I think it's -- it
was actually relatively easy to get in touch with the kids. They were curious as to who I were and what I was doing there. And to win that trust,
I think it's more about, you know, I was spending a lot of time, keeping, reminding them that if there is something you do not want me to film, just,
you know, put up your hand, say stop, or simply just walk away. And in those incidences where they actually did that, obviously I would honor my
word and I would stop filming.
And overtime, that creates that mutual trust that's so important for when the more raw emotional moments happens then all of a sudden, I am not just
(INAUDIBLE). I'm, you know, I'm Simon. And I'm also one that they can go over and they can -- they have a shoulder to cry on if they want to, or we
can take a walk talking, or even in silence. And so, through time, I think we developed a mutual relationship based on trust.
SREENIVASAN: Here are these wonderful kids that are in this horrible situation. How do you maintain -- I don't know, what it is. I guess some
sort of distance where you are watching them experience this life but at the same time, they're probably looking at you as a stable figure that's
coming back every day.
WILMONT: Yes, you know, we were spending a lot of time discussing and being taught by the caregivers of the shelter on how to be in our
involvement with the kids. What kind of boundaries it was necessary for us to make clear. And you know, me not adopting them was one of them that we
were, very early on, would be introducing.
But even more importantly, I think, you know, these kids, they really need some -- they missed somebody to really see them. And my Ukrainian crew and
I, we were like three people all in all, obviously, when this filming ends, it's -- our involvement that does not end. And we have been trying, you
know, to -- we have been having a psychological program where we've hired two psychologists, child psychologists with trauma as a specialty to be
available for the kids from when we stopped filming and forever onwards for the kids while -- that were at the shelter. While we were there to see if a
pilot program like that could actually be really helpful in the future to inspire maybe the state to do something similar. And we've had really,
really good results, actually.
SREENIVASAN: I wonder, as a filmmaker, why you chose not to use the war as part of the storyline or as a -- almost like character. Because what we're
seeing is literally a side of Ukraine that we haven't been exposed to for the past year. But why keep the war out of it even though it's kind of
started while you're doing this?
WILMONT: I wanted to be truthful and honest in regards to the child's point of view. You know, if they don't see the war, then we don't see the
war either. And I felt, in a lot of ways also, that even though, you know, we only hear a couple of explosions once or twice in the film in the
distance, that's what the war is for these kids at this point in time or that point in time. Obviously, now everything has changed.
But it -- no matter what, I still feel that the war, in so many ways, are seeping in through the cracks in everything in this society. And you feel
that it's there even though, you know, you don't see it so much.
SREENIVASAN: Here we are in the second year of this war now, what do we know about the status of the children that you filmed in that shelter?
WILMONT: Yes, Lysychansk, where the shelter is -- was located is one of the most heavily contested cities, almost up there as with Mariupol or
Bakhmut. So, it's been devastated a lot. What I've heard, I don't know if it is true, but the last thing I heard was that there was actually a rocket
that hit down through the roof of the shelter but it didn't explode. So, if it's true, then there's a rocket sticking up from the roof of the shelter,
which is now in Russian controlled territory. So, it's empty of both kids and staff.
WILMONT: Where did all those kids go?
WILMONT: They were put on a train on the morning of the 24th, on a two to three-day train trail westward which had to stop a lot of times because
there was fear of rocket attacks or mortars. Maybe even, actually, as far as I understand, some hits also near the train. But eventually, luckily,
they all got safely to Western Ukraine. And when Lviv also started getting hit, they were transported into a temporary orphanage in Europe.
SREENIVASAN: What do you think that the Oscar nomination has done for this topic, these children?
WILMONT: So, there is so much focus with the Oscars on the kids, but also the topic in general, which is so, you know, important in this place and
time. Because I was filming in Eastern Ukraine a couple years ago, and that was like a smaller problem. But now, obviously with the new full-scale
attack on Ukraine, you could be worried that this problem will spread to encompass most of Ukraine.
But what I'm most proud about is that it means so much for a lot of Ukrainians that this film has actually made it this far. And it helps a
lot, internally, to focus on this topic and to hopefully make, you know, families open up their homes and taking one or two or more of these kids.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, so, what can people do?
WILMONT: Yes, my assistant director and my line producer who are both Ukrainian, while we were shooting the film in the end, they decided,
actually, to make an NGO that's called the foundation, Voices of Children. And this foundation is focused solely on helping vulnerable kids that have
been affected by war in various ways, both either very practical with a home or clothing, or food even, or heating. But also, with psychological
help so they have somebody to talk to, for example. So, I would suggest that people want to help, a good way would be to donate to that NGO.
SREENIVASAN: Simon Lereng Wilmont, this film is called, "A House Made of Splinters". Thanks so much for joining us.
WILMONT: Thanks for having me on the show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. Thank you so much for watching. And
goodbye from New York.