Childhood in the 1930s: Bille lives in a deprived area of Riga. The father is lovable but an alcoholic; the mother is strict out of a sense of frustration; the grandparents think she is a good-for-nothing. Bille dreams of a better life and of ‘Dreamland’. Will she manage to get there?
The autobiographical drama is based on the eponymous novel by the Latvian author Vizma Belševica (1931-2005), which enjoyed great success in Latvia, Sweden and beyond. It earned the author a nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Filmed in the tenement where she herself spent her childhood, the film transports its audience to Latvia of the 1930s and portrays the author’s life in an authentic way. BILLE not only shows how the talented girl, who can already read and write although she does not yet go to school, finds her own path in life against all odds. The film also succeeds in providing from the protagonist’s viewpoint an insight into the difficulties of family life in the economic desolation of Latvia in the 1930s as it increasingly finds itself under political pressure from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. AD