The film is set in the pre-1980’s Soviet era with the year left deliberately vague. The story is based on a dubious Soviet-era tale about a young boy who is active in the Young Pioneers (the Communist answer to the Boy Scouts) and lives on a collective farm given the Soviet name “Dawn.” The morally incorrupt little fellow denounces his anti-Stalinist father to the secret police, only to be murdered by his own family.
Pakalnina’s visually mesmerizing film, laced with her quirky and ironic sense of humour, is beautifully filmed by Polish cinematographer Wojceich Staron in black-and-white. Staron is also one of the film’s producers through his company Staron Film. Pakalnina produces on the Latvian side through Hargla Company. The Estonian production partner is Kaspar Kallas through Digital Sputnik, which provided the specialized lighting for the film. “I have a long cooperation with Kaspar Kallas, since 2003,” Pakalnina told FNE. “He graded all my films for the last ten years.” Kallas also brought his Polish company Miracle Worker on board as a coproducer.
Pakalnina’s cast includes Polish actor Wiktor Zborowski, a former basketball player was needed to play the part of an exceptionally tall man in the film. She told FNE that she cast a male actor in the role of the old granny witch, based on a Russian casting tradition, and filled the roles of extras with Latvian villagers.
The film has a budget of around 1m EUR, Pakalnina said, with 200,000 EUR still needed primarily to cover sound postproduction. The film received 400,000 EUR from the National Film Center of Latvia, 200,000 EUR from the Latvian Cultural Capital Foundation, and 50,000 EUR from the Polish Film Institute. The remainder of the funding came from the investment of private companies.
The film is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015. Pakalnina said she is looking for sales agents, distributors, pre-sales, and sound post-production through a coproducer.
Tel: +37 1 2923 5618
Director: Laila Pakalnina
Script: Laila Pakalnina
DoP: Wojceich Staron
Producer: Laila Pakalnina
Coproducers: Kaspar Kallas, Malgorzata Staron
Cast: Antons Grauds, Vils Daudzins, Andris Keis, Wiktor Zborowsky, Liena Shmukste