Entertainment Director Dāvis Sīmanis starts shooting a new historical thriller...

Director Dāvis Sīmanis starts shooting a new historical thriller – about the mysterious Latvian Pēteris Mālders


The year before the war is based on the historical events of 1913 in Europe – from political conflicts to the twists and turns of romantic relations. The prototype of the main character of the film is the legendary Latvian anarchist Pēteris Mālderis, also called Peter the Painter, in whose mythical personality the most radical contradictions of the 20th century are intertwined.

In 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, the protagonist’s life was marked by real historical figures and events of the time, mixing a surreal tragicomic interpretation of Europe’s parallel history and the story of the demise of old culture.

The first episodes of the film “Year before the War” were shot in Pļaviņas and Rīga: scenes with snow fields were filmed near Pļaviņas, while shots were made in the city where the main character hides from gendarmes, encounters Bolsheviks and funeral processions, and engages in other adventures. Filming will continue in Talsi, Jaunjelgava and Aizkraukle over the weekend.

The director and screenwriter of the film, Dāvis Sīmanis, says: “The time we live in often makes me think about the events before the First World War, about the moment before it started, so I also want to make this film a reminder where general madness can lead. 1913 is a year of escalation, when people are living in a kind of extreme acceleration, both politically, artistically and romantically, without even realizing the catastrophe that will immediately destroy even this whole pre-built world. “

Peter Mahder is the “only man among the madmen” who is drawn into the whirlpool of these extreme phenomena, desperately trying to preserve his humanity and get through it.

“The film is based on the intrigue of conspiracy that Peter is trying to solve, but the various events that become Peter’s life experience are at the same time a representation of real historical events, which also determines the presence of various well-known historical figures in the film.”

The creative core of the film consists of director and screenwriter Dāvis Sīmanis, cameraman Andrejs Rudzāts and artist Kristīne Jurjāne – in this composition the creative team has more than once proved itself with cinematically high-quality films that have gained public and professional recognition not only in Latvia but also internationally.

In 2018, the filmmakers received the Latvian National Film Award “The Great Kristaps” in their category: Dāvis Sīmanis as the best director, Andrejs Rudzāts as the best cinematographer and Kristīne Jurjāne as the best artist for the latest team collaboration – the centennial feature film “Father Night”.

The producer of the film is Roberts Vinovskis, the film is made in “Lokomotīve Studio”. Robert Vinovsky, in collaboration with the creative team of the film “Year before the War”, made the film “Ash Sanatorium” in 2016, which received great public interest and favorable reviews.

The international jury of the Riga International Film Festival (Riga IFF) awarded the ASH Sanatorium the festival GRAND PRIX, the film was screened at four of the fifteen Class A film festivals in the world, receiving various awards, as well as eleven nominations and several awards at the National Film Festival “.

The year “The year before the war” is a co-production of three countries – “Studio Uljana KIM” from Lithuania and “Produkce Radim Prochazka” from the Czech Republic join forces with “Studio Locomotive”. On the Lithuanian side, the creative team will feature the film’s main lighting artist, sound director and composer, while the Czech Republic will feature Petr Buhta and Anna Ridnova, the film’s editing director. The film has received financial support from the National Film Center.

The author and director of the film, Dāvis Sīmanis, is the only film director in Latvia with a doctorate in art sciences, a lecturer in directing and film theory at the Latvian Academy of Culture and the University of Helsinki. The director’s works have gained recognition both in Latvia and elsewhere in the world – feature films “Ash Sanatorium” (2016) and “Father’s Night” (2018), documentaries “Wall” (2018), “Escaping Riga” (2014), “Chronicles of the Last Temple” (2012), “Pa-sun Sound” (2010), Valkyrie Limited (2009), etc.

The next filming period for “The Year Before the War” is planned for May and June.

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