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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Latvia / Lithuania / Poland

Viesturs Kairišs’ latest effort, January, to premiere at Tribeca in June

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- The new coming-of-age film follows a 19-year-old cinematographer and his friends, who are dragged into the political events unfolding in the early post-Soviet years

Viesturs Kairišs’ latest effort, January, to premiere at Tribeca in June
Karlis Arnolds Avots in January

It’s 1991, and 19-year-old Jazis’s love for filmmaking, family and friends is rocked as he is dragged into the people’s peaceful protests against the Soviet Army’s attempted takeover. This is the premise of scriptwriter, filmmaker and stage director Viesturs Kairišs’ latest effort, January [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, an autobiographical take on the events of the early 1990s that changed the lives of many people in the former Soviet Union. The movie will be premiered in the International Narrative Competition of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, in June (see the news).

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Before embarking on this project, Kairišs helmed features such as the dramas The Sign Painter [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Viestur Kairish
film profile
]
(2020), The Chronicles of Melanie [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
(2016) and Leaving by the Way (2002), plus the documentary Pelican in the Desert (2014).

The script, penned by Kairišs himself in co-operation with Andris Feldmanis and Livia Ulman, focuses on Jazis and his friends Anna and Zeps, who are dragged into the events surrounding the collapse of the political system in the region. Their experience and participation in the non-violent people’s resistance, via the construction of barricades and through acting as human shields, play a crucial part in their coming of age.

Key cast members include Karlis Arnolds Avots, Alise Danovska, Sandis Runge, Baiba Broka, Aleksas Kazanavicius and Juhan Ulfsak. Meanwhile, the technical crew includes DoP Wojciech Staron, editor Armands Zacs and supervising sound editor Jonas Maksvytis. The score has been composed by Justė Janulytė.

Speaking about his artistic vision, Kairišs told Cineuropa: “This film leads me to think about the internal, romantic and intellectual ambitions that I have vis-à-vis cinema. The historical moments that are depicted in the film were decisive for Latvia’s independence and for the history of Eastern Europe. There were victims, and there was non-violent resistance; these are significant and autobiographical factors for me. The story recalls the urban films of the French New Wave – a young man who is searching for himself but cannot define himself. This narrative is closely linked to the global confusion and emotional dead ends of that age.”

January is being produced by Latvia’s Mistrus Media, Inese Boka-Grube and Gints Grube, and co-produced by Lithuania’s Artbox (Kestutis Drazdauskas) and Poland’s Staron Film (Malgorzata Staron). The project received backing from the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the Lithuanian Film Centre, the Polish Film Institute, Eurimages, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, Latvian Television, the Latvian Foundation, and the Education, Culture and Sports Department of Riga City Council.

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