The Year Before the War
The winter of 1913. A bilingual doorman of a posh Riga hotel has never been in a real war. At one mysterious meeting someone falsely recognizes him as communist traitor Piotr, who is on the run to hide in a Swiss sanatorium. Sigmund Freud guides the confused guest to even stranger psycho encounters with the bloodiest future ghosts to induce him to kill. Hans dangerously falls in love with spy dancer Mata Hari, curiously wanders through Europe till Franz Kafka leads him to Prague’s underground feast of anarchists, commanded by a far too crazy Vladimir Lenin.
Historical knowledge, insane imagination, silent cinema inspirations shake up hints about cynical utopian ideas to spread various revolutions, deportations, executions, genocides, wars. Intriguingly enough the B&W film also exists in colored version.
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Dāvis Sīmanis, PhD Arts, is a Latvian filmmaker and theorist. He has written and directed historical feature films, poetic documentary films and cross-genre features. His docu-fiction Escaping Riga (2014) is a story of two geniuses - philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin and film director Sergei Eisenstein, premiered internationally at IDFA 2014 and is still screened at documentary film festivals worldwide. Feature fiction film The Mover (2018) - the true story of the “Latvian Schindler” Žanis Lipke, was Latvia’s official candidate for best foreign-language film for the 2020 Oscars and premiered internationally at Moscow IFF, received National Film awards: Best Director; Best Production design; Best Cinematography; Best Supporting Actress.
Valkyrie Limited (2009, doc), Pasaules skana (2010, doc), Chronicles of the Last Temple (2012, doc), Escaping Riga (Põgenedes Riiast, PÖFF 2014), Pelnu Sanatorija (Exiled, 2016), D is for Division (2018, doc), Tēvs nakts (The Mover, 2018), Gads pirms kara (The Year Before the War, 2021)
Award for Best Baltic Film, grant of 3500 euros from Toyota