Dawn | Ausma | 2016 Seattle International Film Festival
Latvia | 2015 | 96 minutes | Laila Pakalnina
This visually ravishing farcical homage to classic Soviet cinema, inspired by an unfinished project by Sergei Eisenstein, updates a mythic propaganda story about a young boy who betrays his father as an anti-Soviet, leading to a series of tragic repercussions.
Based on a mythic propaganda story that is traced back to 1932, Dawn is about Pavel Trofimovich Morozov, better known as Pavlik. Praised by the Soviet government as a political martyr, Pavlik was a 13-year-old boy who denounced his father to the authorities as an anti-Soviet. Pavlik's story has been a prototype for several writings, songs, plays, an opera, and now Latvian filmmaker Lilia Pakalnina's feature film. However, her version reworks his story, setting it in a nondescript era with a hero named Janis, a young pioneer living on a collective farm commune called "Dawn" in Soviet Latvia. Indoctrinated to believe in the future utopia promised by the communist system, Janis betrays his drunken, murderous father, and tragic repercussions follow. Director Pakalnina's monochrome landscapes are impressively comparable to those of Andrei Tarkovsky or Alexei German Sr., yet she accomplishes them with a lighter touch. Dawn brings farce, grotesquerie, and tragedy together in a highly stylized cautionary tale against becoming a cog in the wheel of political systems.
Laila Pakalnina is a Latvian director and writer who graduated from the Moscow Film Institute in 1991. She has directed over 30 short and feature-length films that have screened at festivals around the world, including The Hostage (2006).
Sponsored by Eurochannel
Director: Laila Pakalnina
Principal Cast: Antons Grauds, Vilis Daudzins, Wiktor Zbarovsky, Andris Keish, Liena Smukste
Premier Status: US Premiere