Stones in Cold Water

Filmed throughout Ukraine just months before the full-scale Russian invasion, this vérité visual ethnography explores the overlaps of memory, hope, progress, and nostalgia at the scale of everyday life.

  • Taylor Genovese
  • Taylor Genovese
  • Taylor Genovese
  • Dick Powis
  • Dick Powis
    Original Score
  • Taylor Genovese
    Director of Photography
  • Taylor Genovese
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    39 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 24, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Russian, Ukrainian
  • Shooting Format:
    iPhone, Filmic Pro
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Taylor Genovese

Taylor Genovese is an anthropologist and artist who works in film, video, photography, and sound. Genovese is currently completing his Ph.D. at Arizona State University, where he is part of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. He lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I arrived in Ukraine in September 2021 to shoot a very different film. After production, I returned home to witness the full-scale Russian invasion of the country in February 2022. It was then that I realized I needed to craft something quite different than what I had first envisioned. I sat on my footage for over a year before I started editing. I was gripped with nervous dread over how I could respectfully present the relationships between Ukrainian people, landscapes, and architecture—relationships that have once again been ruthlessly torn apart by war.

The experimental nature of this film, however, has been a constant from the beginning. I decided in pre-production to shoot this on my personal iPhone using Filmic Pro—a manufactured constraint placed upon myself in order to experiment with form. From the beginning, I wanted this film to contribute to the tradition of artistic sensory ethnography, exemplified by the films of Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, J.P. Sniadecki, Libbie Dina Cohn, Ben Rivers, Stephanie Spray, and Pacho Velez, among others—a style of filmmaking meant to encourage the audience to sit (perhaps even uncomfortably) within a variety of anthropological environments, allowing the images and sound to completely wash over them.

My spin on this method was to include my creative partner Dick Powis from the beginning in order to have an original score that acts as a character, one that blends into the environment around it, while also aggravating the anxiety that hangs like a specter over the entire film: the ghost of inconsolable hindsight. As the audience, we understand that the people and places depicted in this film have been violently altered, or even viciously annihilated, by war. Yet, the images presented also tell a story of resilience. Violence has befallen this place many times in the past, yet the mycelium of vivacity has always spread slowly under the substrate. May this tranquil liveliness reemerge and bloom before too long.