Latvia has selected Melanijas hronika (The Chronicles of Melanie) a co-production with the Czech Republic and Finland directed by Viestur Kairish and starring Sabine Timoteo for best foreign-language film for the Oscars 2018 in the category best foreign-language film. This Latvian biographical drama is based on the real life of Melānija Vanaga and focuses on the events of 1941 when Stalin ordered to arrest more than 40 000 residents of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and sent them to exile in Siberia. Melanie, a journalist and a mother of a 8 year old son is among them. She is separated from her husband and her father and has to work as slave and live in poorly built barracks in Siberia. She keeps writing letters to her husband Alexander, letters that are never sent because his address is not known. After 16 years she gets back to Riga and finds out that her husband died in the camps in 1942.
This is what the National Film Center of Latvia wrote about this fascinating film:
‘’The film is based on the life story of Melānija Vanaga, a Latvian writer who managed to survive her deportation to Siberia. It is a truthful account on the miracle of human character, greatness of human spirit and painful destinies, all part of this greatest tragedy of the Latvian nation. The film is interwoven by a heartbreaking story about the deported Latvian women who had to survive, outlast and outlive life in Siberia to be able to return later and live in Latvia.’’
Wendy Ide of Screen Daily described the film as “a potent account of the human cost of Soviet ethnic cleansing in the Baltic region”.
More than 200 film industry professionals from Latvia, Austria, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Russia and Great Britain were involved in the production. The principal shooting was begun in January, 2013 and completed in January, 2015.
The Chronicles of Melanie is Latvia’s ninth foreign-language Oscar submission since 1992. No Latvian film has yet made the shortlist for the Academy Awards.
It received the award for best cinematography at the 2016 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
- Sabine Timoteo as Melānija
- Edvīns Mekšs as Andrejs
- Ivars Krasts as Aleksandrs
- Guna Zariņa as Katrīna
- Maija Doveika as Vilma
- Viktors Nemecs as Ampalov
- Erwin Leder as Jakob
- Evija Rudzīte as Biruta
- Baiba Broka as Anna
- Kirils Zaicevs as Lieutenant of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs
- Astrīda Kairiša as Melānija’s mother
- Lilita Ozoliņa as deported woman
- Ģirts Krūmiņš as Katrīna’s husband Kārlis
- Evija Martinsone as opera soloist
This year record number of 92 films have been submitted for consideration in this year’s foreign-language Oscar race.
Among the first-time entrants are Haiti, Honduras, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Senegal, and Syria.
Final final five nominations in the category Best Foreign Film will be announced on January 23. The Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4 2018 and will be broadcast live to more than 225 countries.
See trailer here: https://vimeo.com/185318040
Sources: Hollywood Reporter, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5541426/, National Film Center of Latvia, Wikipedia
Images: screen photos of the trailer on youtube