Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian enclave surrounded by Azerbaijan, a status established by the government of the U.S.S.R. in 1923. In 1988, the Armenians asked to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Armenian Republic instead of the Azerbaijan Republic. This was rejected. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh increased, culminating in a war, which was won in 1994 by the Armenians.
The Stepanakert Airport in Nagorno-Karabakh had operated in a normal manner during the Soviet period, but closed when the war broke out. In 2009, Armenians began reconstructing the airport with the hope of gaining official contact with the outside world.
Should the Wind Drop (Si le vent tombe) is told from the perspective of Alain Delange (Grégoire Colin), a French engineer who is sent to assess the suitability of reopening the Stepanakert Airport. Alain knows nothing of the history of Nagorno-Karabakh nor of the political significance of the airport. For him, this is just another job, one that is almost boring. He just wants to get it done and return from this obscure outpost to his regular life in Paris.
But, gradually, the locals break through his indifference, and he begins to understand the importance of the airport from the Armenian point-of-view. He meets the director of the airport, a journalist sent to cover his visit, workers who keep the airport in immaculate condition despite the fact that it does not yet host any flights, and children and others who are doing their best to get on with their daily lives in what, to understate the case, are difficult conditions.
As for the airport…wildfires? No problem because it is protected by fire breaks. Winds? No problem because they don’t interfere with the takeoffs and landings of aircraft. Its proximity to the Azerbaijan border? Well, yes, that is a concern, but flight paths can be established in the opposite direction.
Eventually Alain appears on local television and speaks to the Armenian journalist announcing his proposed certification of the airport.
But then, in the middle of the night, Alain receives a call from a representative of the French government. And everything changes.
Should the Wind Drop includes side stories about a boy who steals water from the airport and sells it by claiming it comes from a sacred healing spring, and about a “madman” who understands the forest near the border.
The day after Should the Wind Drop had its first screening in Paris, director Nora Martirosyan and others associated with the film awoke to discover that war had broken out again in Nagorno-Karabakh. This time, with the intervention of air power supplied by Turkey, it ended after 44 days in a victory for Azerbaijan. Although this was devastating for Armenians, Martirosyan has said that at least her film documented a time of hope, even of that hope appears a long way from an opportunity to be fulfilled.