Filming under way on Dāvis Sīmanis' The Year Before the War
by Davide Abbatescianni
- The Latvian director began his summer shoot on 19 May, following a winter filming session that took place in early February in Pļaviņas, Riga and Talsi
Dāvis Sīmanis is now working on his third fiction film, a new historical thriller set in 1913 and entitled The Year Before the War. In this project, Sīmanis is again exploring the theme of wartime in Latvia, following 2016's Exiled [+see also:
film profile], set in a Latvian asylum in 1917, and last year's The Mover, which depicted the tragedy of the Holocaust in Riga and centred on the efforts of Zanis Lipke's family to save a group of 40 Jews.
The Year Before the War, penned by Uldis Tīrons (Philosopher Escaped), Tabita Rudzāte (Exiled) and the director himself, is a reminder to contemporary society about the turbulent times before World War I and tells the story of a young man taking part in the creation of a new world. This mysterious adventurer, who was known as Peter the Lett (Czech actor Petr Buchta), is swept up on a tragicomic and surreal journey from a routine clerk’s job and a passionate romance in Riga to the preparation of a global revolution in Vienna, psychoanalysis with Freud and seduction by Mata Hari in Paris. The film will make use of the stylisation typical of silent cinema and will show different characters embodying the political and philosophical extremes of the 1910s.
The main cast also includes Latvian actors Lauris Dzelzītis (1906), Gints Grāvelis (My Family Tree), Ģirts Ķesteris (Swingers [+see also:
film profile]) and Dace Everss (Senotaji). The crew is enriched by the presence of director of photography Andrejs Rudzāts (The Mover), editor Anna Rydnova, production designer Kristīne Jurjāne (Exiled) and composer Faustas Latenas (The Purple Mist).
The Year Before the War is being produced by Roberts Vinovskis for Latvia's Locomotive Productions, in co-production with Lithuania's Studio Uljana Kim and the Czech Republic's Produkce Radim Prochazka. The making of this feature is being supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre, the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Czech Film Commission, with the largest amount of financing (€502,662) coming from the Riga-based film agency. The overall budget of the project is €850,000.
The summer period of principal photography, scheduled to end at the beginning of July, includes 33 shooting days and is taking place on location in Latvia (Riga, Cinevillage, Zvārtava, Krimulda, Stāmeriena and Cēsis) and in the Czech Republic. The film will be released in autumn 2020.
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