“I’m ready to go, but I don’t wish for a conflict to start”. Those of the words of Tatul, a man living as an Armenian in a territory that his government now controls. His village, Voskepar is too close to the Azerbaijani border, and his paranoia comes with living in proximity with a rival ethnic group. He is not the only person with the same kind of mental warping. Francois Jacob’s Under the Same Sun talks to both Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Under Soviet rule, both groups lived in relative harmony. But peace disappeared with that old republic. The recent spat involves Armenia conquering border towns like Voskepar, which they see as their birthright. The Azerbaijanis disagree, having to flee such border towns to flock their capital of Baku, where the refugees tell the camera that they have no grudges against the Armenians, but the Armenians are the aggressive ones.
Jacob also talks to liberal intellectuals like Armenian Iskandaryan and Azerbaijani Hikmet Hadjy-Zadeh. The latter specifically comments on the hyper capitalism and militarism in both countries, which I think is a digressive element. Another problem that places like Baku and Stepanakert face is modernization, destroying the cultural character as much as war does. It is understandable that there is a connection between the isms affecting the general population, but Jacob’s scenes with villagers and refugees feel more comfortable and organic. There is much to see and hear about these people articulating their emotions about the ethnic conflict taking place. Thankfully, the documentary that Jacob gives us has enough of those scenes, as well as ones where both laymen, intellectuals, and activists have moments where they express their culture. Their music and their dances are still alive. In showing those scenes, Jacob hopes for a time when both can be together.