Section: Close Up WWII

Melanijas Hronika

The Chronicles of Melanie

Viesturs Kairišs
Latvia, Finland, Czech Republic, 2015, 120 Min

1941. After the occupation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union the Stalin administration began to deport members of the Latvian elite to Siberia. Among them was Melānija Vanaga, the wife of a renowned newspaper publisher. The story of her fate offers touching insight into an internationally little-known episode of the war.

The mass deportations began in the summer of 1941 in the Baltic States, Bukovina and Bessarabia. Men and women were separated, with the measures directed against the bourgeois and military national elite. Many prisoners died in the gulags. To this day the events that were kept secret during the socialist-era are, especially in the Baltic states, considered a national trauma. In recent years the local film industry has increasingly devoted itself to a reappraisal thereof. Occasionally mythical undertones of sacrifice are mixed into this work of remembrance while, against the background of current geopolitical conflicts with Russia, old fears of threat from the eastern neighbour are awakened or, at times, evoked. This historical drama is based on authentic accounts from Vanaga, who spent 16 years in a labour camp. Attracting 75,160 viewers the film took fourth place on the Latvian cinema hit list back in 2016. BB

Viesturs Kairišs -

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