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Laila Pakalnina
Latvia, Estonia, Poland 2015 / 96’

Eleven-year-old Janis denounces his father. As an exemplary pioneer living on a Soviet collective farm called Dawn, he realizes enemies of the system lurk everywhere. Even his loved ones could be conspiring against the collective and its authority. The boy's father is not beholden to him and starts a vendetta. The starting point for Janis's story in Laila Pakalnina's Dawn comes from the life of Pavlik Morozov, one of Stalin's martyrs, who, in the early 1930s, betrayed his family and was murdered. At the same time, the director was inspired by the screenplay to Sergei Eisenstein's Bezhin MeadowDawn portrays the oppressive, suffocating world of the Soviet system, which was dominated by absurdity. Pakalnina and cinematographer Wojciech Staron have created one of the most interesting and most original snapshots of totalitarian reality. This is Pakalnina's fifth feature film.

Joanna Ostrowska

Laila Pakalnina

Born in 1962 in Liepaja, Laila Pakalnina is a Latvian film director and screenwriter. She completed her studies in 1986 at Moscow State University (Faculty of Journalism). Five years later, she completed a degree in Film Direction at Moscow's Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. She has made more than 30 films since 1991. Her feature The Shoe was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 in the Un Certain Regard section. Her films have been screened at major international film festivals, including in Berlin, Venice, and Locarno.

Selected filmography

1991 Vela (doc., short)

1998 Pantofelek / Kurpe / The Shoe

2003 Pyton / Pitons / The Python

2006 Zakładnik / Kilnieks / The Hostage

2015 Świt / Ausme / Dawn

Cast & Crew

director Laila Pakalnina
screenplay Laila Pakalnina
cinematography Wojciech Staroń
editing Kaspar Kallas
music Vestard Shimkus
cast Vilis Daudzins, Antons Grauds, Andris Keiss, Liena Smukste, Wiktor Zborowski
producer Kaspar Kallas, Laila Pakalnina, Małgorzata Staroń
production Hargla Company, Miracle Worker, Staron Film, Digitaalne Sputnik
sales Staron Film
language Latvian
colouration b&w