• Golden Globe Awards

Dawn (Latvia)

Dawn or Ausma, the visually powerful monochrome tragicomedy from Latvian director-screenwriter Laila Pakalnina, is inspired by the mythical propaganda story of Pavel Trofimovich Morozov, the 13-year-old boy who denounced his father to the authorities as an anti-Soviet and was ultimately murdered by his own family.More popularly known as Pavlik, the teenager has been praised by the Soviet government as a political martyr. His story has inspired several literary works during Soviet times. Pakalnina reworks his story and recasts the protagonist as Janis (Antons Georgs Grauds), an idealistic and cherubic Young Pioneer (similar to the Boy Scouts of the Western world) living in a collective farm commune called “Dawn” in Soviet Latvia.Set in the early 1960s, Janis betrays his crude, drunken, tough and oppressive father (Villis Daudzis) and repercussions follow. With this situation at home, Janis finds a surrogate father in Karlis (Wiktor Zborowski), the village’s noble, and darkly charismatic political officer. Pakalnina, who has directed more than 30 short and feature length films with her film Kurpe screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, impresses the audiences with her realistic yet poetic visuals of everyday life in a Latvian farming community, thanks in part to the great eye of cinematographer Wojciech Staron.The black-and-white cinematography delicately utilizes movement as both camera and subjects are frequently in motion. The film shocks you with stark images of poverty and mob brutality. Pakalnina, who grew up under the Soviet system and studied film in Moscow, cites her own childhood memories and Vladimir Putin as inspiration in the credits.