She lived to tell us her story. And so that we would not forget.

A film by Viesturs Kairišs, based on the book by Melānija Vanaga Veļupes krastā.

Trailer



Synopsis

The film “The Chronicles of Melanie” is based on the life story of Melānija Vanaga, a Latvian woman who managed to survive her deportation to Siberia.  It is a truthful account of the miracle of human character, magnitude of the human spirit and the painful destinies, which were a part of the greatest tragedy facing the Latvian nation. It is the story of Latvian women who had to suffer and survive physically and emotionally in order for Latvia to live.

An early morning of 15 June 1941 in Soviet-occupied Latvia. The authorities break into the house of Melanie and her husband Aleksandrs, editor of a newspaper of independent Latvia, make them wake up their eight-year-old son Andrejs and get into a lorry. At the station, the men are separated from their families. On this day, the Soviets deported about 17,000 people from Latvia (the next wave of deportations came in March of 1949).

The deported are taken to Siberia in cattle cars. Melanie and her son first have to survive – the three-week long ride to the remote Tiukhtet village, the first months in the alien environment, famine and illness – and then to live. They have to make peace with the new life and accept it even though everything seems to have lost its point and reason. This drives some to the point of collapse, yet Melanie is aware of “only one string sounding and that string is hope.” She takes detailed notes that later becomes a weighty literary work about the 16 years spent in Siberia.

Out of her notes, Melānija Vanaga prepared a book of documentary prose Veļupes krastā, which was published in 1991, soon after Latvia regained independence.  Later, it served as the concluding volume in Vanaga’s seven-book series “The Gathering of Souls” about the personal history of her family and entire Latvia.

For the entire period of her exile (1941–1957), Melānija writes letters to Aleksandrs without sending them and dedicates a handwritten family chronicle to her son Aleksandrs, for she herself no longer hopes to return to Latvia. In 1957, Melānija is freed. She goes to Riga where she finds out that Aleksandrs barely survived a year in the harsh environment to which he was sent. Melānija spends the rest of her life working as a cow herder.

To maintain hope, to preserve in oneself a person who is stronger than famine, cold, cruelty and even death and is capable of taking on responsibility for another person, to help others – such is the confirmation of Melānija Vanaga, her memories and also this film to the light in the world and in every one of us.

Team

Director

Viesturs Kairišs

Camera

Gints Bērziņš, LGC

Artist

Ieva Jurjāne

Producers

Inese Boka-Grūbe
Gints Grūbe

Co-Producers

Julietta Sichel
Klaus Heydemann

Editing

Jussi Rautaniemi

Composers

Arturs Maskats
Kārlis Auzāns
Aleksandrs Vaicahovskis

Sound

Aleksandrs Vaicahovskis
Robert Slezák

Make-up Designer

Mari Vaalasranta

Director’s assistant

Madara Dišlere

Production

Elīna Zazerska

Co-Producer

Elīna Gediņa-Ducena

Cast:

Melanie

Sabine Timoteo

Andrejs

Edvīns Mekšs

Aleksandrs

Ivars Krasts

Katrīna

Guna Zariņa

Vilma

Maija Doveika

Ampalov

Viktors Nemecs

Jakob

Erwin Leder

Biruta

Evija Rudzīte

Anna

Baiba Broka

Lieutenant of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs

Kirils Zaicevs

Melanie’s mother

Astrīda Kairiša

Deported woman

Lilita Ozoliņa

Katrīna’s husband Kārlis

Ģirts Krūmiņš

Opera soloist

Evija Martinsone

Support

Financing

national_film_center

kkf

cze

ses

eurimages

karelia

yle

ltv

Partners

ldz_cargo

eco

ldz_logo

upp

sleepwalker

latviesu_fonds

ala

lr

lmt-straume

delfi

deep-white

la

pelican

jumava25

ieva

ir

Contacts

Film studio Mistrus Media
birojs@mistrusmedia.lv
+371 67313314, +371 29259580
Blaumaņa street 11/13-13, Riga, Latvia