Latvia, Poland, Estonia


The film DAWN heralds a morally confused world in the recent past – the Soviet era, when adults and children alike lost their bearings in the name of so-called ideals. Son betrayed father; father betrayed son.
Unfortunately, DAWN is not only about the past, as the desire of totalitarian regimes to turn people into dull cogs-in-a-machine seems eternal – limited neither by time nor space.
Based on a Soviet propaganda story (most likely none too accurate) about young pioneer (the Soviet equivalent to the boy scouts) Morozov, who denounced his father to Stalin’s secret police and was in turn killed by his own family. His life exemplified the moral duty of all fine Soviet citizens: that the good of the State is of utmost importance.
78 years later we call him Little Janis, and he’s a pioneer who lives on the Soviet collective farm “Dawn”. His father is an enemy of the farm (and the Soviet system), and wants to burn down its headquarters. Little Janis betrays his father and the father takes revenge on his son. Who, in this old Soviet fairy tale, is good, and who is evil?

Director's Statement

I’ve always been convinced that films should arise from sorrow or from joy. DAWN, however, is a particularly singular film – I didn’t know that sorrow and joy could be so simultaneous. Like dying and being born at the same time.
I could tell you that in creating this film I was playing around with the old Soviet fairytale, but that’s not really the case – I did very little playing around with the story. It was more playing around with the energy…
What’s more, I don’t want to say that it’s all so complicated. It isn’t. I’d just rather not use words to describe what I do, using imagery and sound, that is, in making a film. And DAWN is a film. At least I hope so.

Director's Biography

In 1991, Laila Pakalniņa graduated from the Moscow Film Institute's (VGIK) Department of Film Direction. She is the director and screenwriter of 27 documentaries, five shorts and five fiction features. So she has 37 films, two children, one husband, one dog, two bicycles. And many ideas for new films.
Her films were screened in the official programme of festivals such as Cannes IFF, Venice IFF, Berlin IFF, Locarno IFF, Rome IFF, IDFA, Visions du Reel and have received various awards.

2016 - WATERFALL, doc
2015 - HI, RASMA, doc
2014 - HOTEL AND A BALL, doc
2013 - THE CHIMNEY, doc
2013 - FORTY TWO, doc
2012 - PIZZAS
2012 - SNOW CRAZY, doc
2010 - ON RUBIKS' ROAD, doc
2009 - SILENCE, short
2008 - FIRE, short
2006 - THEODORE, doc
2006 - WATER, short
2004 - DREAM LAND, doc
2004 - THE BUS, doc
2004 - IT'LL BE FINE, doc
2002 - MARTINS, doc
2001 - PAPA GENA, doc
2000 - WAKE UP, doc
1998 - THE SHOE
1997 - THE OAK, doc
1995 - ABANS, doc
1995 - THE MAIL, doc
1994 - THE FERRY, doc
1993 - THE CHURCH, doc
1992 - ANNA'S CHRISTMAS, short
1991 - THE PILGRIMAGE, doc
1991 - THE LINEN, doc
1991 - THE DOME, doc
1990 - THE CHOICE, doc
1988 - AND, doc

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Laila Pakalnina

Written by: Laila Pakalnina

Produced by: Laila Pakalnina, Kaspar Kallas, Małgorzata Staron

Cinematography: Wojciech Staron

Editing: Kaspar Kallas

Production Design: Jurgis Krasons

Costume Design: Natalia Czeczott

Make-Up & Hair: Dzintra Bijubena

Original Score: Vestards Šimkus

Sound Design: Anrijs Krenbergs

Main Cast: Vilis Daudziòð (Father), Antons Georgs Grauds (Janis), Wiktor Zborowski (Karlis Janovics)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2016